The Citizen (KZN)

N Korea ‘ready for war’ with US



North Korea denounced the US deployment of a naval strike group to the region yesterday, warning it is ready for “war” as Washington tightens the screws on the nuclear-armed state.

The strike group, which includes the Nimitz-class aircraft supercarri­er USS Carl Vinson, cancelled a planned trip to Australia this weekend to head to the Korean peninsula in a show of force.

“This goes to prove that the US’ reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase,” North’s foreign ministry said according to state news agency KCNA.

“The DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US,” he said, using the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

President Donald Trump has asked his advisors for a range of options to rein in Pyongyang, a top US official said on Sunday. Trump has previously threatened unilateral action against Pyongyang if China – the North’s sole major ally – fails to help curb its neighbour’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

But Pyongyang’s response suggested the reclusive state is determined to continue on its current path, despite repeated rounds of United Nations sanctions.

“We will take the toughest counteract­ion against the provocateu­rs in order to defend ourselves by a powerful force of arms,” the foreign ministry said. Speculatio­n over an imminent nuclear test is brewing as the North marks anniversar­ies including the 105th birthday of its late founding leader on Saturday – sometimes celebrated with a demonstrat­ion of military might.

The South’s prime minister and acting president warned yesterday of a “grave provocatio­n” by the North to coincide with other anniversar­ies, including the April 25 foundation day for its army. The current surge in tensions also coincided with the scheduled gathering yesterday of the North’s parliament.

Satellite imagery analysis suggests North Korea could be preparing for a sixth nuclear test, with intelligen­ce officials warning it could be less than two years away from achieving the ability to strike the continenta­l United States.

South Korea’s top nuclear envoy said on Monday after talks with his Chinese counterpar­t that the two nations had agreed to “strong” new measures to punish Pyongyang if it carried out another nuclear test. – AFP

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