Is North Korea Steps Up Its Threats, Drawing U.S. Rebuke?…!!

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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean state media said Friday that the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, had ordered his missile units to be ready to strike the United States and South Korea, which South Korean officials said could signal either preparations for missile tests or just more blustering.

The United States criticized the North Korean threat, which came one day after American forces had carried out an unusual practice bombing exercise with advanced aircraft across South Korea.

“The United States is fully capable of defending itself and our allies,” said Lt. Col. Catherine Wilkinson, a Pentagon spokeswoman in Washington.”North Korea’s bellicose rhetoric and threats follow a pattern designed to raise tensions and intimidate others.”

The back-and-forth was viewed with worry by China and Russia. China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated its calls for restraint. Russia was more explicit, with its foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, telling reporters in Moscow that he was increasingly concerned about a situation that could “get out of control — it will descend into the spiral of a vicious cycle.”

Mr. Kim’s order, which North Korea said was given during an emergency meeting early Friday, was similar to the one issued Tuesday when the North’s top military command told all its missile and artillery units to be on the “highest alert” and ready to strike the United States and South Korea in retaliation against their joint military exercises.

But by attributing such an order to its top leader, North Korea tried to add weight to its threat.

“We believe they are taking follow-up steps,” said Kim Min-seok, spokesman of the South Korean Defense Ministry, referring to increased activities of the North Korean military units. “South Korean and American intelligence authorities are closely watching whether North Korea is preparing its short, medium, and long-range missiles, including its Scud, Rodong and Musudan.”

He did not elaborate. But government officials and South Korean media said that there had been a surge in vehicle and troop movements at North Korean missile units in recent days as the United States and South Korea has been conducting joint military drills. The national news agency Yonhap quoted an anonymous military source as saying that North Korean vehicles had been moving to Tongchang-ri near the North’s western border with China, where its Unha-3 rocket blasted off in December.

North Korea might be preparing for an engine test ahead of a long-range rocket test, the source was quoted as saying. Scud and Rodong are the North’s mainstay short- and medium-range missiles. The Musudan, deployed around 2007 and displayed for the first time during a military parade in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, in 2010, is a road-mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 1,900 miles, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry.

In an angry reaction to the sanctions that the United Nations imposed after North Korea’s launching of a three-stage rocket in December and its third nuclear test last month, the North has repeatedly threatened to strike Washington, as well as the American military bases around the Pacific and in South Korea, with nuclear-armed long-range missiles.

A photo released by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Friday showed Mr. Kim conferring with his top generals on what the agency called “plans to strike the mainland U.S.” A military chart behind them showed what appeared to be trajectories of North Korean missiles hitting major cities in the United States.

North Korea also said its leader, Mr. Kim, “finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the K.P.A., ordering them to be standby for fire so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland, its military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea.” K.P.A. stands for the Korean People’s Army.

Kim Min-seok, the South Korean spokesman, said the North’s “unusual” public announcement of such plans was partly “psychological.” Many experts and South Korean officials doubted that North Korea has such long-range missiles, much less the know-how to make a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on such rockets.

But other analysts believed that the North’s new KN-08 missiles, which were put on public display last April, were indeed intercontinental ballistic missiles, although they and Musudan have never been test-launched before. They wondered whether North Korea might use the current tensions as an excuse to launch them.

The country is barred from launching ballistic missiles under United Nations sanctions. North Korea’s development of the KN-08 was one of the reasons the Pentagon cited last Friday when it announced a $1 billion plan to add more missile interceptors in Alaska to better protect the United States against a potential North Korean missile attack.

Although North Korea issued strident threats and stirred up fears of American invasion during previous joint American-South Korean military drills, Mr. Kim has been far more aggressive in issuing such threats personally than his late father, Kim Jong-il, was. Unlike his father, who had expanded his power base from his youth, Mr. Kim was catapulted into top leadership after his father’s sudden death in 2011 and must build his credentials as head of his “military-first” government, South Korean analysts and officials said.

Hours after Mr. Kim’s call to arms, thousands of North Koreans turned out for a 90-minute mass rally at the main square in Pyongyang, chanting “Death to the U.S. imperialists” and “Sweep away the U.S. aggressors,” according to The Associated Press, which has a bureau in Pyongyang. Soldiers and students marched through downtown Pyongyang.

On Thursday, the American military carried out a rare long-range practice bombing run over the Korean Peninsula, sending two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers on a practice sortie over South Korea, underscoring Washington’s commitment to defend its ally amid rising tensions with North Korea.

“The reaction to the B-2 that we’re most concerned about is not necessarily the reaction it might elicit in North Korea, but rather among our Japanese and Korean allies,” Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a news conference at the Pentagon. “Those exercises are mostly to assure our allies that they can count on us to be prepared and to help them deter conflict.”

North Korea puts rockets on standby as US official warns regime is no ‘paper tiger’

By Courtney Kube and Ian Johnston, NBC News

North Korea put its rocket units on standby Friday to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea and the Pacific, after repeated threats and one day after two American stealth bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula in a military exercise.

A U.S. official warned that the isolated communist state is “not a paper tiger” and its reaction should not be dismissed as “pure bluster.”

According to the North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, the country’s leader Kim Jong Un “judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation” at a midnight meeting of top generals, Reuters reported.

The latest threat comes one day after two nuclear-capable stealth bombers flew from Missouri to drop inert munitions on a range in South Korea as part of a major military exercise.

KCNA via EPA

Kim Jong Un, seen at what was described as an urgent meeting overnight, has ordered his rocket forces to be on standby to strike U.S. and South Korean targets at any time.

The U.S. official emphasized the danger posed by North Korea’s military and the unpredictable nature of its 30-year-old leader.

“North Korea is not a paper tiger so it wouldn’t be smart to dismiss its provocative behavior as pure bluster. What’s not clear right now is how much risk Kim Jong Un is willing to run to show the world and domestic elites that he’s a tough guy,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “His inexperience is certain — his wisdom is still very much in question.”

There was a mass demonstration in support of Kim involving tens of thousands of people in the main square of North Korean capital Pyongyang Friday, The Associated Press reported.

Placards read “Let’s crush the puppet traitor group” and “Let’s rip the puppet traitors to death!”

‘War for national liberation’
The state-controlled KCNA also published an article that said the “opportunity for peacefully settling the DPRK-U.S. relations is no longer available as the U.S. opted for staking its fate. Consequently, there remains only the settlement of accounts by a physical means.” DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.

“A battle to be fought by the DPRK against the U.S. will become a war for national liberation to defend the sovereignty and dignity of the country and, at the same time, a revolutionary war to defend the human cause of independence and the justice of the international community,” the article by “news analyst” Minju Joson said.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean military official as saying that there had been “increased movement of vehicles and forces” at missile launch sites in the North. “We are closely watching possibilities of missile launches,” the unnamed official said.

North Korea routinely issues hostile statements but analysts have noted recent remarks have become more belligerent. In December, the North carried out a long-range rocket test and then detonated a nuclear bomb in a test earlier this year.

 

At a daily news briefing Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said China was calling for an easing of tensions.

But some fear the situation could be getting out of control.

“It seems that Kim Jong Un is in the driving seat of a train that has been taken on a joyride,” Lee Min-yong, an expert on North Korea at Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul, told Reuters.

Russia, meanwhile, appeared to criticize the U.S. over Thursday’s bomber mission.

“We are concerned that alongside the adequate, collective reaction of the U.N. Security Council, unilateral action is being taken around North Korea that is increasing military activity,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow, according to Reuters.

“The situation could simply get out of control; it is slipping toward the spiral of a vicious cycle,” he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

 

Collected from-http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/30/world/asia/kim-jong-un-of-north-korea-orders-missile-readiness.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0
&
http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/29/17513218-north-korea-puts-rockets-on-standby-as-us-official-warns-regime-is-no-paper-tiger?lite

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  1. […] North Korea puts rockets on standby as US official warns regime is no ‘paper tiger’ (ninthfact.wordpress.com) […]

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