North Korea threatens attack
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea threatened today to enlarge its nuclear arsenal and “mercilessly” attack South Korea and the United States, as the allies prepared for joint military drills which the North considers a rehearsal for invasion.
North Korea routinely issues threats over the annual joint military drills, but its latest warning could rekindle tensions that rose sharply after two recent deadly incidents blamed on the North.
North Korea fired artillery at a front-line South Korean island in November, killing four people. Forty-six sailors died when a South Korean warship sank eight months earlier. North Korea has denied firing a torpedo at the ship.
North Korea called the South Korea-U.S. drills, which begin Monday, a “dangerous military scheme.”
“The army and people of (North Korea) will return bolstered nuclear deterrent of our own style for the continued nuclear threat by the aggressors,” North Korea’s military said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
It accused South Korea and the U.S. of plotting to topple the North’s communist government. It said if provoked, North Korea would start a “full-scale” war, take “merciless counteraction” and turn Seoul into a “sea of flames.”
North Korea also warned it would take “our own missile striking action” against what it called moves by the U.S. and South Korea to eliminate the North’s missiles. The statement didn’t elaborate.
Earlier today, the North’s military warned that it would destroy South Korean border towns if Seoul continues to allow activists to launch propaganda leaflets toward the communist country.
In a separate statement carried by KCNA, it accused South Korean activists and lawmakers of flying balloons carrying hundreds of thousands of leaflets and DVDs critical of North Korea’s government on the North’s most important national holiday, an apparent reference to leader Kim Jong Il’s 69th birthday, which was Feb. 16.
It was unclear whether activists have launched more balloons since then. (AP)