North Korea on Thursday threatened preemptive nuclear strikes against the U.S. and South Korea ahead of a vote at the United Nations on a new set of sanctions against its nuclear test last month.
Its Foreign Ministry said in a statement, “We will exert our right to preemptive nuclear strikes against aggressors.”
Earlier in the day, the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, warned that a thermonuclear war, claiming that the country is in a heightened state of readiness and ready to strike at the heart of the enemy.
|Naval Academy cadets pay tribute to the deceased crewmembers of corvette Cheonan, which was sunk by a North Korean torpedo attack in 2010, at the National Cemetery in Daejeon on Thursday, the eve of their commission ceremony. (Yonhap News)|
“Even if Pyongyang or Washington pushed the nuclear weapons release button first, neither can legally be held accountable,” the media outlet said.
The U.N. Security Council was set to vote on fresh sanctions after Pyongyang, in defiance of international pressure, tested a nuclear weapon on Feb. 12. Before the latest test, it had detonated two atomic devices in 2006 and 2009.
The newspaper said that with the Korean War armistice agreement having been nullified, it would not be strange if a thermonuclear war erupted.
North Korea is believed to have set no-fly and no-sail zones off its east and west coasts in a possible move to fire off short-range missiles later this month, a senior military official in Seoul said Thursday.
The North has banned flights and fishing near its coasts for two-weeks during the period when South Korea and the U.S. will carry out war games as part of their annual drills, sparking speculations over the country’s intentions.
“Considering North Korea’s no-fly and no-sail zones in the East Sea and Yellow Sea, it may fire off short-range missiles,” the official said, asking for anonymity, as he is not allowed to talk about military information.
“The launch is likely to happen within this month.”
Pyongyang is believed to have more than 1,000 missiles ― most of which are able to strike South Korea ― and some are capable of hitting select Japanese and U.S. military bases. Among them, short-range missiles, such as KN-02 with a 120 kilometer range, falls within the no-fly, no-sail zone.
The communist country is believed to have tested the short-range missile about 10 times since 2005, with the latest test conducted two days ahead of the North’s Feb. 12 nuclear test off its eastern coast.
Seoul’s Defense Ministry saw a slim chance of the North test firing its newest missile, called KN-08, which was first shown during a military parade in Pyongyang in April 2012.
“KN-08’s missile range is estimated to be very long,” defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said in a briefing, without giving details of the range. “As it is believed to have the longest range among North Korea’s missiles, it would fly much farther than the no-fly and no-sail zones set by the North.”
Experts have paid keen attention to the latest missile, believed to be designed as an intercontinental ballistic missile class to target the U.S. Many believe KN-08 is not ready for deployment, and the one shown in the parade is a “mock-up”, citing no separation lines between the warhead and the rocket’s last stage, visible loose bolts and misaligned lines on the missile.
South Korean and U.S. forces have been keeping close tabs on North Korea’s military, as it is currently carrying out various kinds of ground, maritime and aerial drills, spokesman Kim said.
(From news reports)