South Korea ‘will bomb North’ if at­tacked again

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

SEOUL: South Korea said on Fri­day it would bomb North Korea if it tries a re­peat of last week's at­tack, with the United States warn­ing of an "im­me­di­ate threat" from Py­ongyang.

Kim Kwan, a re­tired gen­eral, was speak­ing at a par­lia­men­tary meet­ing con­firm­ing him as new de­fense min­is­ter, a day af­ter U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton said North Korea threat­ened the re­gion and the world.

"If there are fur­ther provo­ca­tions, we will def­i­nitely use air­craft to bomb North Korea," Kim said, when asked how he would re­spond to an­other at­tack af­ter last week's North Korean bom­bard­ment of an is­land near their dis­puted border, killing two South Korean marines and two civil­ians.

For nearly 60 years, the two Koreas have faced each other across one of the world's most heav­ily armed bor­ders. They have never signed a peace treaty to end the 195053 Korean War.

The North alone has more than 5,000 mul­ti­ple-launch rock­ets pointed at the cap­i­tal Seoul which, with its satel­lite cities, is home to some 25 mil­lion peo­ple.

The for­eign min­is­ters of the United States, Ja­pan and South Korea, long-time al­lies, meet in Washington on Mon­day to dis­cuss North Korea. North Korean ally China, push­ing for an emer­gency meet­ing of the six coun­tries in­volved in de­nu­cle­ariza­tion talks, is not go­ing. That means the dis­cus­sions in Washington have lit­tle chance of break­ing the im­passe within the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity on a com­mon ap­proach to deal with the mount­ing ten­sion on the Korean penin­sula.

South Korea's for­eign min­istry said a joint state­ment crit­i­ciz­ing North Korea's shelling of South Korea was be­ing pre­pared. Ja­pan's Mainichi news­pa­per said the state­ment would call on North Korea to stop provoca­tive ac­tions and en­rich­ment of ura­nium-a sec­ond way for it to pro­duce ma­te­rial for nu­clear weapons.

U.S. and Ja­panese forces be­gan ma­neu­vers on Fri­day, adding to ten­sion. The ex­er­cises will in­volve about 44,500 per­son­nel.

Ja­panese De­fense Min­is­ter Toshiba Ki­tazawa de­scribed the ma­neu­vers as "nor­mal train­ing" held ev­ery two years.

"Changes in the re­gional se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion are nat­u­rally taken into con­sid­er­a­tion," he said. "But this is not some­thing that is tar­geted at any par­tic­u­lar coun­try."

Clin­ton said: "North Korea poses an im­me­di­ate threat to the re­gion around us, par­tic­u­larly to South Korea and Ja­pan. "It poses a medium-term threat if it were to col­lapse to China, be­cause of refugees and other in­sta­bil­ity. And it poses a long-term threat to the en­tire world, be­cause of its nu­clear pro­gram, and its ex­port of weapons around the world." South Korea had ex­er­cised great re­straint, she said in the Kyr­gyz cap­i­tal Bishkek, ac­cord­ing to a tran­script re­leased by the State Depart­ment.

The United States has been push­ing China, North Korea's only ma­jor ally, to bring the reclu­sive coun­try to heel. China has re­fused to blame North Korea for last week's at­tack, or for the ear­lier sink­ing of a South Korean naval ves­sel. A team of in­ter­na­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tors said the North tor­pe­doed the ship.

On Wed­nes­day, South Korea's spy chief said it was highly likely the North would at­tack its wealthy neigh­bor again. -Reuters

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