North Korea threat­ens naval ex­er­cises

‘Nu­clear de­ter­rence’ cited against U.s., south Korean drills

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION - By Jim Gomez

HANOI, Viet­nam — North Korea in­flamed ten­sions over the deadly sink­ing of a South Korean war­ship by threat­en­ing the United States and South Korea with a “phys­i­cal re­sponse” and “nu­clear de­ter­rence” if they carry out naval ma­neu­vers this week­end. The U.S. re­fused to back down.

North Korea’s of­fi­cial news agency this morn­ing car­ried a North Korean De­fense Com­mis­sion state­ment: “The army and peo­ple … will le­git­i­mately counter with their pow­er­ful nu­clear de­ter­rence the largestever nu­clear war ex­er­cises to be staged by the U.S. and the south Korean pup­pet forces.”

The threat came four months af­ter the sink­ing of a South Korean war­ship that killed 46 sailors. North Korea has been blamed for tor­pe­do­ing the ship, but it de­nies any in­volve­ment.

“North Korea may very well go ahead with mis­sile launches or even a third nu­clear test to show it won’t bend to U.S. pres­sure,” said Yang Moo Jin, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of North Korean Stud­ies in Seoul.

In Viet­nam for a South­east Asian re­gional se­cu­rity fo­rum, U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton and a North Korean ‘There will be phys­i­cal re­sponse against the threat im­posed by the United States mil­i­tar­ily,’ North Korean spokesman Ri Tong Il, cen­ter right, said at a re­gional sum­mit Fri­day in Hanoi, Viet­nam. of­fi­cial traded barbs over the sink­ing, the four-day mil­i­tary drills that be­gin Sun­day and new U.S. sanc­tions.

At the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions meet­ing in Hanoi, North Korean spokesman Ri Tong Il re­peated Py­ongyang’s de­nial of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the sink­ing. He said the mil­i­tary drills — to be held in the Sea of Ja­pan off Korea’s east coast and in the Yel­low Sea closer to China’s shores — were a vi­o­la­tion of Korean sovereignty that harkened back to the days of 19th cen­tury “gun­boat diplo­macy.”

The ma­neu­vers will in­volve 20 ves­sels and 200 air­craft from the U.S. and South Korea.

These ex­er­cises will be “an­other ex­pres­sion of hos­tile pol­icy against” North Korea,” Ri told re­porters. “There will be phys­i­cal re­sponse against the threat im­posed by the United States mil­i­tar­ily.”

Clin­ton re­sponded by say­ing that the U.S. is will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with North Korea, but that threats by Py­ongyang only heighten ten­sions.

“It is dis­tress­ing when North Korea con­tin­ues its threats and causes so much anx­i­ety among its neigh­bors and the larger re­gion,” she told re­porters. “But we will demon­strate once again with our mil­i­tary ex­er­cises … that the United States stands in firm sup­port of the de­fense of South Korea.”

Shortly be­fore Ri spoke, Clin­ton had lashed out against bel­liger­ent acts by North Korea, warn­ing that Py­ongyang must re­verse a “cam­paign of provoca­tive, dan­ger­ous be­hav­ior” if it wants im­proved re­la­tions with its neigh­bors and the United States.

Na Son-Nguyen

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