|N Korea threatens US with nuclear attack|
|Thursday, 07 March 2013 18:09|
“Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to pre-emptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor in order to protect our supreme interest,” the North’s foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
The North conducted a third nuclear test on 12 February, in defiance of UN resolutions, and declared it had achieved progress in securing a functioning atomic arsenal.
Although North Korea boasts of nuclear bombs and pre-emptive strikes, it is not thought to have mastered the ability to produce a warhead small enough to put on a missile capable of reaching the US mainland.
It is believed to have enough nuclear fuel, however, for a handful of crude nuclear devices.
The North’s unnamed foreign ministry spokesman also said it would be entitled to take military action as of 11 March when US-South Korea military drills move into a full-scale phase as it had declared the truce invalid.
It is the latest in an escalation of tough words from both sides of the armed Korean border this week as the UN Security Council deliberates a resolution to tighten financial sanctions and a naval blockade against the North.
North Korea, which held a mass military rally in Pyongyang yesterday in support of its recent threats, has protested against the UN censures of its rocket launches.
It says they are part of a peaceful space programme and that the criticism is an exercise of double standards by the US.
In 2010, the North bombed South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island killing two civilians. It is widely accused of sinking a South Korean navy ship earlier in the year, killing 46 sailors.
North Korea was conducting a series of military drills and getting ready for state-wide war practice of an unusual scale, South Korea’s defence ministry said earlier yesterday.
South Korea and the US, which are conducting annual military drills until the end of April, are watching the North’s activities for signs they turn from an exercise to an actual attack, a South Korean official said.
“It hasn’t been frequent that the North conducted military exercise at the state level,” South Korea’s defence ministry spokesman, Kim Min-seok, said.
“We are watching the North’s activities and stepping up readiness under the assumption that these drills can lead to provocation at any time.”
A top North Korean general said on Tuesday Pyongyang was scrapping the armistice. But the two sides remain technically at war as the civil war did not end with a treaty.
South Korea’s military said in a rare warning on Wednesday that it would strike back at the North and target its leadership if Pyongyang launched an attack. — Al Jazeera