North Korea says U.S. car­rier groups raise nu­clear war threat

The Western Star - - OBITUARIES / NEWS -

North Korea warned Mon­day that the un­prece­dented de­ploy­ment of three U.S. air­craft car­rier groups “tak­ing up a strike pos­ture’’ around the Korean penin­sula is mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to pre­dict when nu­clear war will break out.

North Korea’s U.N. Am­bas­sador Ja Song Nam said in a let­ter to Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Gut­teres Mon­day that the joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea are cre­at­ing “the worst ever sit­u­a­tion pre­vail­ing in and around the Korean penin­sula.’’

Along with the three car­rier groups, he said the U.S. has re­ac­ti­vated round- the- clock sor­ties with nu­clear- ca­pa­ble B-52 strate­gic bombers “which ex­isted dur­ing the Cold War times.’’

He also said the U.S. is main­tain­ing “a sur­prise strike pos­ture with fre­quent flight of B-1B and B-2 for­ma­tions to the airspace of South Korea.’’

“The large-scale nu­clear war ex­er­cises and black­mails, which the U.S. staged for a whole year with­out a break in col­lab­o­ra­tion with its fol­low­ers to sti­fle our repub­lic, make one con­clude that the op­tion we have taken was the right one and we should go along the way to the last,’’ Ja said.

He didn’t elab­o­rate on what “the last’’ might be, but North Korea has launched bal­lis­tic mis­siles that have the po­ten­tial to strike the U.S. main­land, and it re­cently con­ducted its largest- ever un­der­ground nu­clear ex­plo­sion. It has also threat­ened to ex­plode an­other nu­clear bomb above the Pa­cific Ocean.

The four- day joint naval ex­er­cises by the U.S. and South Korea, which be­gan Satur­day in wa­ters off the South’s east­ern coast, were de­scribed by mil­i­tary of­fi­cials as a clear warn­ing to North Korea. They in­volve the car­rier bat­tle groups of the USS Ron­ald Rea­gan, Theodore Roos- evelt and Nimitz, which in­clude 11 U.S. Aegis ships that can track mis­siles, and seven South Korean naval ves­sels.

Seoul’s mil­i­tary said in a state­ment that the ex­er­cises aim to en­hance the com­bined U.S. and South Korean oper­a­tional and aerial strike ca­pa­bil­i­ties and to dis­play “strong will and firm mil­i­tary readi­ness to de­feat any provo­ca­tion by North Korea with dom­i­nant force in the event of cri­sis.’’

Ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, it is the first time since a 2007 ex­er­cise near Guam that three U.S. car­rier strike groups are op­er­at­ing to­gether in the Western Pa­cific.

The mil­i­tary drills come amid U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s visit to South Korea and Asia, which has been dom­i­nated by dis­cus­sions over the North Korean nu­clear threat.

Ja ac­cused the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in Mon­day’s let­ter of re­peat­edly “turn­ing a blind eye to the nu­clear war ex­er­cises of the United States, who is hell bent on bring­ing a cat­a­strophic disaster to hu­man­ity.’’ He said the ex­er­cises raise se­ri­ous con­cern about “the dou­ble stan­dard’’ of the UN’s most pow­er­ful body.

He also ref­er­enced Trump’s Septem­ber speech to the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly in which the pres­i­dent said that if the U.S. is “forced to de­fend it­self or its al­lies, we will have no choice but to to­tally de­stroy North Korea.’’

Trump tweeted soon af­ter mak­ing the speech that Korea’s lead­er­ship “won’t be around much longer’’ if it con­tin­ued its provo­ca­tions, a dec­la­ra­tion that led the North’s for­eign min­is­ter to as­sert that Trump had “de­clared war on our coun­try.’’

Ja said Mon­day the U.S. “is now run­ning amok for war ex­er­cises by in­tro­duc­ing nu­clear war equip­ment in and around the Korean penin­sula, thereby prov­ing that the U.S. it­self is the major of­fender of the es­ca­la­tion of ten­sion and un­der­min­ing of the peace.’’

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