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After US warning, NK responds with threats

Shortly after the US’ stringent warning, North Korea responded with shrill rhetoric, with its envoys at home and at the UN relaying fresh threats of far more frequent weapons tests, a pre-emptive strike and even nuclear war.

US Vice President Mike Pence on Monday in Seoul warned Pyongyang “not to test” the US, singling out its recent strike in Syria and Afghanistan that showed the “strength and resolve” of President Donald Trump and the US military forces.

Several hours later, North Korea’s deputy UN representative Kim In-ryong held a press conference in New York, accusing Washington of turning the Korean Peninsula into “the world’s biggest hot spot” and “pushing the situation to the brink of war.”

North Korea’s deputy UN representative Kim In-ryong holds a press conference in New York, accusing Washington of turning the Korean Peninsula into “the world’s biggest hot spot” and “pushing the situation to the brink of war.” (Yonhap)
North Korea’s deputy UN representative Kim In-ryong holds a press conference in New York, accusing Washington of turning the Korean Peninsula into “the world’s biggest hot spot” and “pushing the situation to the brink of war.” (Yonhap)

“If the US dares opt for a military action, (North Korea) is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US,” he said.

“It has created a dangerous situation in which thermonuclear war may break out at any moment on the peninsula and poses a serious threat to world peace and security.”

Kim said the Trump administration’s re-dispatch of the Carl Vinson nuclear carrier strike group toward the peninsula once again “proves the US’ reckless moves for invading the DPRK (North Korea) have reached a serious phase of its scenario.”

“The prevailing grave situation proves once again that the DPRK was entirely just when it increased in every way its military capabilities for self-defense and pre-emptive attack with a nuclear force as a pivot.”

In Pyongyang, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol said despite the outside world’s censures, the country will continue to conduct more tests “on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis according to our own schedule.”

“If the US goes on with their reckless option of using military means then that would mean from that very day, an all-out war,” he said in an interview with broadcaster BBC in Pyongyang.

“If the US encroaches upon our sovereignty then it will provoke our immediate counter-reaction, and if it is planning a military attack against us, we will react with a nuclear pre-emptive strike by our own style and method.”

The weapons are needed to protect the government and system, Han said, noting the country has learned the “lesson” from Libya and Syria where “people are suffering from great misfortune” due to US-led attempts at regime change.

“If the balance of power is not there, then the outbreak of war is imminent and unavoidable,” he said. “If one side has nukes and the other side doesn’t, and they’re on bad terms, war will inevitably break out.”

With both Washington and Pyongyang trading verbal fire day after day, concerns have been rising over the skyrocketing tension that may led to a miscalculation.

During a White House Easter event Monday, Trump reiterated the communist state “gotta behave,” but asked about the possibility for a pre-emptive strike, he said he does not want to “telegraph what I’m doing or what I’m thinking.”

South Korea’s acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn once again warned during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday that the North would face “strong punitive measures” if it carries out another provocation.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed concerns about the “tense” situation, calling for calm and efforts to find “opportunities and possibilities for dialogue.”

UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Monday also urged Pyongyang to take steps to “de-escalate” the situation, calling Sunday’s failed missile launch “troubling.”

“We’re obviously deeply concerned about the rising tensions that we’ve seen in the Korean Peninsula. We call on all to redouble their diplomatic efforts.”

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)
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