NKorea lam­basts South Korea’s new de­fense chief

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

NKorea lam­basts SKorea's new de­fense chief

SEOUL: North Korea lam­basted South Korea's new de­fense chief Sun­day for threat­en­ing to launch air strikes against the North and ac­cused the South of caus­ing "un­con­trol­lable, ex­treme" ten­sion on the penin­sula.

The South's De­fense Min­is­ter Kim Kwan-jin told a con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing last week that jets would bomb the North if it stages an­other at­tack like the shelling on a front-line is­land that killed four South Kore­ans. Kim took of­fice Satur­day, re­plac­ing a pre­de­ces­sor who re­signed amid crit­i­cism that South Korea's re­sponse to the Nov. 23 shelling was too slow and weak. The North's of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency is­sued a state­ment Sun­day ac­cus­ing the South of stag­ing a se­ries of "fran­tic provo­ca­tions" in­clud­ing the de­fense min­is­ter's re­marks.

"The fran­tic provo­ca­tions ... are rapidly driv­ing the sit­u­a­tion on the Korean penin­sula to an un­con­trol­lable ex­treme phase," the of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency said in a dispatch from Py­ongyang.

The dispatch said South Korea plans to stage new naval drills with the United States soon, start its own live-fire drills from Mon­day and de­ploy mis­siles, rock­ets and other so­phis­ti­cated weapons to Yeon­pyeong Is­land that was hit by the ar­tillery bar­rage.

"The pup­pet mil­i­tary war­like forces were re­ported to have al­ready worked out the so-called ' re­tal­ia­tory plan' which calls for spark­ing off an armed clash af­ter get­ting on the nerves of the (North Korean) mil­i­tary and tak­ing a large-scale coun­ter­ac­tion un­der this pre­text," it said.

South Korea's mil­i­tary de­clined Sun­day to con­firm whether it has such a mil­i­tary plan. Joint Chiefs of Staff of­fi­cers only said a new joint drill with the U.S. - which would fol­low last week's mas­sive joint naval drill in the Yel­low Sea - is still un­der dis­cus­sion with Washington and the live­fire ex­er­cise is a rou­tine drill that was sched­uled well be­fore the ar­tillery bar­rage.

Kim in­spected an army base near the heav­ily for­ti­fied land border Sun­day and urged troops to strengthen their com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity and mental tough­ness, ac­cord­ing to his of­fice. A day ear­lier, he vis­ited Yeon­pyeong Is­land and vowed to take strong mea­sures to en­sure North Korea would not dare to make more provo­ca­tions. De­spite the re­cent at­tack, the De­fense Min­istry be­lieves it's un­likely North Korea would launch a fullscale war as it could not wage a con­flict for long and be­cause of South Korea's solid mil­i­tary al­liance with the U.S., Yon­hap news agency re­ported Sun­day cit­ing the mil­i­tary. -Ap

SEOUL: South Korean De­fence Min­is­ter Kim Kwan-jin (L) shakes hands with with sol­diers dur­ing his visit to a mil­i­tary base near the demil­i­tarised zone sep­a­rat­ing the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul, De­cem­ber 5. -Reuters

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