North Korea has announced today that its army had received final approval to launch “merciless” nuclear strikes against the US.
The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said it was formally notifying Washington that US threats would be “smashed by… cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means”, according to a statement published by the official KCNA news agency.
“The merciless operation of [our] revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified.
“The moment of explosion is approaching fast,” the statement read, adding that it could occur “today or tomorrow”.
North Korea has announced today that its army had received final approval to launch “merciless” nuclear strikes against the US
The North Korean move came just hours after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said North Korea presented a “clear and present danger” to the US and its allies after days of escalating rhetoric.
Hawaii and Guam would also be outside the range of its medium-range missiles, but the US bases in South Korea and Japan may be vulnerable.
Chuck Hagel issued a statement after US stealth bombers were seen patrolling the border between North Korea and South Korea as part of military exercises which have inflamed tensions in the region.
Despite a successful long-range rocket launch in December, it is believed North Korea is years from developing an inter-continental ballistic missile that could strike the mainland United States, AFP reported.
Chinese troops have been placed on a heightened state of alert along the country’s frontier with North Korea after a series of warlike statements and actions from the pariah state.
North Korea today blocked South Korean workers from entering jointly run Kaesong Industrial Complex which is one of the few signs of positive relations between the neighboring countries.
The move to bar South Koreans from going to work at the Kaesong factory zone comes a day after North Korea announced that it would re-open a nuclear facility which has been closed since 2007.
Russia has warned of tensions in North Korea slipping out of control, after Pyongyang announced it was placing its rockets on stand-by.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the situation could slip “toward the spiral of a vicious circle”.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made the missile order after talks responding to US stealth bomber flights over the Korean peninsula, state news agency KCNA said.
The time had come to “settle accounts” with the US, KCNA quoted him as saying.
Annual military drills and fresh UN sanctions have angered North Korea.
Russia has warned of tensions in North Korea slipping out of control, after Pyongyang announced it was placing its rockets on stand-by
After a late-night meeting with the army’s strategic rocket force, Kim Jong-un “judged the time has come to settle accounts with the US imperialists”, KCNA reported.
Kim Jong-un was said to have condemned US B-2 bomber sorties over South Korea as a “reckless phase” that represented an “ultimatum that they will ignite a nuclear war at any cost on the Korean Peninsula”.
US mainland and bases in Hawaii, Guam and South Korea were all named as potential targets.
The US – which flew two stealth bombers over the peninsula on Thursday as part of the ongoing annual US-South Korea military drills – has said it is ready for “any eventuality” on the peninsula.
Thousands of North Korean soldiers and students later took part in a mass rally in the centre of Pyongyang in support of Kim Jong-un’s announcement, beneath large portraits of his father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung.
A South Korean defence ministry spokesman described the North Korean decision as a “continuing measure”, after its announcement to adopt “combat posture”.
China, North Korea’s biggest trading partner, immediately reiterated its call for all sides to ease tensions.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov went further, voicing concern that “we may simply let the situation slip out of our control and it will slide into a spiral of a vicious circle”.
While condemning Pyongyang’s actions as “unacceptable”, Sergei Lavrov gave a more general warning that “unilateral steps being taken around North Korea that manifest themselves in a build-up of military activity”.
Sergei Lavrov added what was needed was not a build-up of military muscle and a pretext for using military means to achieve “geopolitical objectives”, in remarks seen as an implicit criticism of US bomber flights.
North Korea announces it has put missile units on stand-by to attack US targets in response to US stealth bomber flights over the Korean peninsula.
State news agency KCNA said leader Kim Jong-un signed off on the order at a late-night meeting of top generals.
The time had come to “settle accounts” with the US, KCNA quoted him as saying, with the B-2 flights an “ultimatum”.
Pyongyang has been angered by fresh UN sanctions and annual US-South Korea military drills.
China, North Korea’s biggest trading partner, has called on all sides to ease tensions.
North Korea announces it has put missile units on stand-by to attack US targets in response to US stealth bomber flights over the Korean peninsula
Kim Jong-un “finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the KPA, ordering them to be stand-by for fire so that they may strike any time”, the KCNA report said.
“If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, the Korean People’s Army (KPA) should mercilessly strike the US mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theatres in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea,” the agency quoted him as saying.
Thousands of North Koreans later took part in a march in Pyongyang in support of Kim Jong-un’s announcement, the Associated Press news agency reported.
A Yonhap news agency report citing an unidentified military official said increased activity had been noted at North Korea’s missile sites, but this remains unconfirmed.
The US – which flew two stealth bombers over the peninsula on Thursday as part of the ongoing military drills – has said it is ready for “any eventuality” on the peninsula.
In a statement, it said that the B-2 planes demonstrated America’s ability to “provide extended deterrence” to its allies and conduct “long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will”.
“The North Koreans have to understand that what they’re doing is very dangerous,” US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters on Thursday.
“We must make clear that these provocations by the North are taken by us very seriously and we’ll respond to that.”
The US flew nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over South Korea earlier this month, in what it called a response to escalating North Korean threats.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei reiterated a call for calm on all sides.
Hong Lei told a daily news briefing that “joint efforts” should be made to turn around a “tense situation”. He made similar remarks on Tuesday.
Tensions in the Korean peninsula are high following North Korea’s third nuclear test on February 12, which led to the imposition of a fresh raft of sanctions.
North Korea has made multiple threats against both the US and South Korea in recent weeks, including warning of a “pre-emptive nuclear strike” on the US and the scrapping of the Korean War armistice.
North Korea is not thought to have the technology to strike the US mainland with either a nuclear weapon or a ballistic missile, but it is capable of targeting some US military bases in Asia with its mid-range missiles.
While North Korea has issued many threats against the US and South Korea in the past, this level of sustained rhetoric is rare, observers say.
On March 16, North Korea warned of attacks against South Korea’s border islands, and advised residents to leave the islands. In 2010 it shelled South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island, causing four deaths.
On Wednesday, Pyongyang also cut a military hotline with the South – the last direct official link between the two nations.
A Red Cross hotline and another line used to communicate with the UN Command at Panmunjom have already been cut, although an inter-Korean air-traffic hotline still exists.
The jointly-run Kaesong industrial park is still in operation, however, and over 160 South Korean commuters entered North Korea yesterday to work in its factories.
Kaesong Industrial Complex employs an estimated 50,000 North Korean workers and is a source of badly-needed hard currency for the North.