North Korea says ready for combat as sanctions tighten

SEOUL Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:43pm GMT

1 of 5. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) watches soldiers of the Korean People's Army (KPA) taking part in the landing and anti-landing drills of KPA Large Combined Units 324 and 287 and KPA Navy Combined Unit 597, in the eastern sector of the front and the east coastal area on March 25, 2013, in this picture released by the North's KCNA news agency in Pyongyang March 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/KCNA

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SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea repeated threats on Tuesday to target U.S. military bases as Washington and its allies tightened economic sanctions against the isolated country by targeting Pyongyang's main foreign exchange bank with new measures.

The rhetoric from North Korea - which has threatened the United States with nuclear war and rehearsed drone attacks on South Korea - and Washington's hardening reaction, drew more concern from China, Pyongyang's only major ally, which said the situation was "sensitive".

Pyongyang says United Nations sanctions, agreed after North Korea carried out a third nuclear test in February, are part of a Washington-led plot to topple its leadership.

"From this moment, the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army will be putting into combat duty posture No. 1 all field artillery units, including long-range artillery units and strategic rocket units, that will target all enemy objects in U.S. invasionary bases on its mainland, Hawaii and Guam," the North's KCNA news agency said.

The order was issued in a statement from the North Korea's military "supreme command."

The Pentagon condemned North Korea's rhetoric, saying it was designed to "raise tensions and intimidate others."

"They need to stop threatening peace on the peninsula. That doesn't help anyone ... and we stand ready to respond to any contingency," Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.

The Pentagon has declined to define the range of North Korea's rockets, saying it is classified. But Admiral James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged on March 15 that one type of North Korean missile likely had the range to reach the United States.

South Korea's defence ministry said it saw no sign of imminent military action by North Korea and most military analysts say Pyongyang will not risk a conflict with the United States that it would lose.

South Korea and the U.S. military are conducting military drills until the end of April, which they have stressed are strictly defensive in nature. The North accuses Washington of war preparations by using B-52 bombers which have flown over the Korean peninsula as part of the drills, and it has abrogated an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

The Pentagon said there have been three such flights by U.S. B-52 bombers since March 8, with the most recent one on Monday.

BANK SANCTIONS?

Officials said Japan and Australia plan to impose sanctions on North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank as part of U.S.-led efforts targeting Pyongyang's funding for its nuclear programme.

China again called on all parties to show restraint. "At present, the situation on the Korean peninsula remains complex and sensitive," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

Pyongyang's aggressive rhetoric appears to mark a further attempt to boost the military credentials of Kim Jong-un, who took power in December 2011 after the death of his father. He has cemented the role of the military and the North's nuclear weapons and missile ambitions with the nuclear test and two long-range rocket launches.

KCNA said on Tuesday that Kim had guided a landing operation by combined units including the North Korean navy.

"This is a mythmaking for the (military) commander," said Jeung Young-tae, a senior analyst at the Korea Institute of National Unification in Seoul.

Many Americans appeared unfazed by what the Pentagon described as a "well-worn pattern" of rhetoric and threats from Pyongyang.

"I think they're threatening more than anything else. I don't' feel very threatened," said Sophie Hara, a Hawaii resident.

"It's just a bluff."

South Korea marked the third anniversary on Tuesday of the sinking of a navy ship that killed 46 sailors that it and the United States have blamed on North Korea. Pyongyang denied the charge.

On March 22, South Korea and the United States signed a "counter-provocation plan" meant to fine tune joint reaction to any future North Korean military strikes. The Pentagon said details of the plan were classified.

(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington and Suzanne Roig in Honolulu; Editing by Ian Geoghegan and David Brunnstrom)

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Comments (2)
FRPSR wrote:
The crudeness of the North Korean leaders is provocative for its childlike simplicity . Adults generally only condone mimicking when they are not the selected caricature .
The disaster of the belligerence the North Korean mimicry is that they seek to emulate both in how it offends those who could alleviate the fragile ego of these actors , and a real world fact that provoking unrestrained anger leads to the obvious danger of uncontrolled actions .
It is perhaps naive to trust all the motives of the belligerence found in weak or overwhelmed actors . The “cunning” emasculation performed on the Turks by an Israeli focus on gaining traction , maintaining their advantage , and never bending , or yielding , to the exclusion of all else .
An over taxed Israeli policy of not blinking caused the dry eyed lowering of responsible powers acceptance of Israeli apartheid happy talk .
Despite the obvious disintegration of allied tolerance , a more exposed and cornered Israel acts as if there were no consequences for an unprovoked , unwarned , murderous assault on a Turkish relief convoy in international waters . By not believing they are possessed of human weaknesses , and therefore quite capable of the type of human error that made their existence possible in the first place , nine relief working Turks are dead , or murdered .
The conscious less stealing of Palestinian land , and the insertion of half a million radicalized people . People who are raised to believe they are invincible , so that they are above the puny laws of people . They answer only to their own desires , and act with umlimited impunity .
Sound familiar ?

Mar 26, 2013 10:48am GMT  --  Report as abuse
mgb500 wrote:
The real problem is that Fatboy has run out of pork pies – he’s obviously eaten them all. So no he’s acting like a complete prat, so he can look heroic to the mind-washed peasants. Perhaps Wall’s would care to set up a factory in Pyongyang making pies for Dear Fatboy?

And while they’re about it – can someone PLEASE send Dear Fatboy a decent barber – his head looks like a hen’s bum!

Mar 26, 2013 7:27pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
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