North Korea on Thursday threatened to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States, amplifying its threatening rhetoric as U.N. diplomats voted on whether to level new sanctions against Pyongyang for its recent nuclear test, according to the Huffington Post.
An unidentified spokesman for Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry said the North will exercise its right for “a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors” because Washington is pushing to start a nuclear war against the North.
North Korea has threatened to end the decades long ceasefire with its Southern neighbor if it goes ahead with its joint military drills with the US. Pyongyang also cited the US-led attempts to slap it with sanctions, as being behind the decision. It comes as Washington is eyeing up more punishment for North Korea described as some of toughest ever imposed by the UN. An expert on East Asia, Glyn Ford, says while China supports the US-proposed sanctions, it would still prefer to have North Korea as its ally in the region.
North Korea has imposed no-fly and no-sail zones off both its coasts, South Korean government sources tell Yonhap news agency.
The move indicates that Pyongyang intends to conduct major military drills and the test-firing of short-to-medium range missiles also remains a possibility, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said on Wednesday.
“The North’s military … is preparing large-scale combined military exercises so it may have blocked off the areas for nautical firing or fighter jet firing exercises,” Yonhap quoted a South Korean government source as saying.
“But the firing of missiles cannot be ruled out.”
The agency also reported that North Korea has already begun submarine drills as it steps up preparations for nationwide military exercises.
This undated photo released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on February 26, 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting an artillery firing drill of the Korean People’s Army.
(Photo / KNS)
n February, Kim Min-seok, a South Korean ministry spokesman said a large-scale military drill was likely to be held in the North due to the unusually high levels of participation by the North’s artillery, special forces and air force over the winter months.
The report follows Pyongyang’s threat to scrap a ceasefire which ended the 1950-53 Korean War due to an ongoing military US-South Korean military drill. The North further said it will cut off a military phone line in the truce village of Panmunjom.
On Wednesday the South Korean military issued an uncharacteristically harsh warning, saying it would strike the North’s command leadership if provoked.
“If North Korea attempts a provocation that threatens the lives and security of our people, our military will forcefully and decisively strike not only the origin of provocation and its supporting forces, but also its command leadership,” said Maj. Gen. Kim Yong-hyun, chief operations officer at the military’s Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff. “We make it clear that we are all prepared.”
Building tensions on the Korean Peninsula come as the 15-nation UN Security Council prepares to ‘significantly expand’ sanctions on North Korea over a third nuclear test conducted in February.
Several UN envoys said on Tuesday that a vote on the draft sanctions resolution agreed upon by Washington and Beijing was expected on Thursday.
The sanctions would explicitly ban the sale of luxury goods which are a regular staple of North Korea’s ruling elite and make it more difficult for Pyongyang to transfer funds globally, a council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
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