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North Korea ready for fight with U.S., says official

“We will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike,” North Korean Vice Minister Han Song Ryol says


 
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts during a test launch of ground-to-ground medium long-range ballistic rocket Hwasong-10 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 23, 2016.  (KCNA/Reuters)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts during a test launch of ground-to-ground medium long-range ballistic rocket Hwasong-10 in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 23, 2016. (KCNA/Reuters)

PYONGYANG, Korea, Democratic People’s Republic Of – President Donald Trump’s tweets are adding fuel to a “vicious cycle” of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea’s vice foreign minister told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Friday. The official added that if the U.S. shows any sign of “reckless” military aggression, Pyongyang is ready to launch a pre-emptive strike of its own.

Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said Pyongyang has determined the Trump administration is “more vicious and more aggressive” than that of Barack Obama. He added that North Korea will keep building up its nuclear arsenal in “quality and quantity” and said Pyongyang is ready to go to war if that’s what Trump wants.

Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington go back to President Harry Truman and the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty. But the heat has been rising rapidly since Trump took office in January.

MORE: Trump issues fresh warning to North Korea

This year’s joint war games between the U.S. and South Korean militaries are the biggest so far – the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier has been diverted back to the waters off Korea after heading for Australia, and U.S. satellite imagery suggests the North could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time. Pyongyang recently tested a ballistic missile and claims it is close to perfecting an intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear warhead that could attack the U.S. mainland.

Many experts believe that at its current pace of testing, North Korea could reach that potentially game-changing milestone within a few years – under Trump’s watch as president. Despite reports that Washington is considering military action if the North goes ahead with another nuclear test, Han did not rule out the possibility of a test in the near future.

“That is something that our headquarters decides,” he said during the 40-minute interview in Pyongyang, which is now gearing up for a major holiday – and possibly a big military parade – on Saturday. “At a time and at a place where the headquarters deems necessary, it will take place.”

The North conducted two such tests last year alone. The first was of what it claims to have been a hydrogen bomb and the second was its most powerful ever. Expectations are high the North may put its newest missiles on display during Saturday’s parade.

The annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises have consistently infuriated the North, which views them as rehearsals for an invasion. Washington and Seoul deny that, but reports that exercises have included “decapitation strikes” aimed at the North’s leadership have fanned Pyongyang’s anger.

Han said Trump’s tweets have also added fuel to the flames.

Trump posted a tweet Tuesday in which he said the North is “looking for trouble” and reiterated his call for more pressure from Beijing, North Korea’s economic lifeline, to clamp down on trade and strengthen its enforcement of U.N. sanctions to persuade Pyongyang to denuclearize.

Trump has threatened that if Beijing isn’t willing to do more to squeeze the North, the U.S. might take the matter into its own hands.

“Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words,” Han said. “It’s not the DPRK but the U.S. and Trump that makes trouble.” North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - MARCH 26:  A Man watchs a television broadcast reporting the North Korean missile launch at the Seoul Railway Station on March 26, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. North Korea test-launched two Nodong medium-range ballistic missiles into the sea off Korean peninsula's east coast on Wednesday morning, according to South Korea's defence ministry. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA. A Man watchs a television broadcast reporting the North Korean missile launch at the Seoul Railway Station on March 26, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Han said the sanctions approach is misguided and cited the opening ceremony of a sprawling new high-rise residential area in Pyongyang on Thursday as evidence that sanctions have failed to ruin the country’s economy. Leader Kim Jong Un presided over the ceremony before about 100,000 residents and a large contingent of foreign journalists who have been allowed in to cover the holiday.

Han dismissed the suggestion Trump made last year during his presidential campaign that he was willing to meet Kim Jong Un, possibly over hamburgers.

“I think that was nothing more than lip service during the campaign to make himself more popular,” Han said. “Now we are comparing Trump’s policy toward the DPRK with the former administration’s and we have concluded that it’s becoming more vicious and more aggressive.”

Han said North Korea changed its military strategy two years ago, when the reports of “decapitation strike” training began to really get attention, to stress pre-emptive actions.

“We’ve got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike,” he said. “Whatever comes from the U.S., we will cope with it. We are fully prepared to handle it.”

RELATED: Trump says U.S. is ready to act alone on North Korea

How much such comments are bluster, or how realistic they are, is hard to gauge.

Later Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said all sides must stop provoking and threatening and start taking a flexible approach to resuming dialogue. He said China is willing to support any such effort.

“Once a war really happens, the result will be nothing but multiple-loss. No one can become a winner,” Wang said. “No matter who it is, if it wants to make war or trouble on the Korean Peninsula, it must take the historical responsibility and pay the due price.”

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Han’s remarks on the North’s readiness to conduct a nuclear test and even go to war reveal the “true colours of North Korea’s government that is bellicose and a breaker of regulations.”

The ministry issued a statement saying North Korea will face strong punishment it will find hard to withstand if it makes a significant provocation, such as another nuclear test or an ICBM launch.

Military experts generally agree a shooting war with North Korea would likely be far more costly than something along the lines of the recent targeted strike Trump ordered against a Syrian air base believed to be linked to a chemical weapons attack by the regime of Bashir Assad. That attack alarmed the North and was condemned as “unpardonable” by Pyongyang, which counts Syria as an ally.

Even without nuclear weapons, the North could cause severe damage with its conventional artillery batteries aimed at the South Korean capital of Seoul.


 

North Korea ready for fight with U.S., says official

  1. This is what the world has come to….two madmen in a pissing contest……with missiles.

    • And yet when Obama grew the military personnel to 40000 in Japan and 30000 in Korea – hardly a peep. He even bragged how cheap it was to keep US personnel in Asia.

      When Obama shipped the MOAB to Afganistan that Trump dropped. Hardly a peep.

      • The difference is, Obama was preparing for contingencies. Trump is boasting, antagonizing, and playing with his toys. The man-child bully doesn’t understand terms like diplomacy and restraint.

        • Right. Because Obama’s military build-up in the Pacific was seen as peaceful LOL.
          Obama sent U-2 spy planes, A-10 fighters, etc for the Korean museum expo.

    • It’s time for the USA’s secret weapon, that extraordinary international diplomat who is familiar with both sides of the border … Dennis Rodman ….

  2. It’s not going to take very long before DT kills us all …..

  3. Would it be too crazy to say that every country that wishes to have a couple of nuclear weapons for deterrent purposes should be permitted, and that must include a reduction by the so-called nuclear powers, China, Russia, and the U.S., because, in my view, there will never be a time of complete removal of such weapons, or the belief by some small nations of their need for such weapons.

    There appears to be no evidence that such an idea could put nuclear weapons more easily into the hands of terrorist groups. The logistics of controlling such a weapon would be beyond the capability of such a group.

    Status quo provides enough nuclear weapons to blow this planet into the nearest black hole.

    • Thankfully between the 2 president Bush’s they reduced the US nuclear stockpile by nearly 15,000 war heads. Unfortunately Nobel Peace prize winner Obama did not keep the same pace — only remove 500 nuclear war heads from the US stockpile. I remember an Obama speech in 2009 in which he was aiming for a “nuclear-free goal”. Oh well!

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