North Korea has missiles on 'highest alert'
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have escalated further as North Korea announced it had placed its missile and artillery forces "on the highest alert".
South Korea's new President warned that the communist regime in Pyongyang could survive only if it abandoned nuclear weapons and ceased to provoke and threaten its neighbours.
This latest sabre-rattling came on the third anniversary of the deadliest recent incident between the two Koreas, the March 2010 sinking of a South Korean corvette – apparently by a North Korean torpedo – in which 46 sailors died.
The South's president Park Guen-hye, who took office only a month ago, used the occasion to urge the North to end its isolation. But North Korean military responded with the alert, declaring it was ready to hit the bases of "US imperialist aggressor troops" on the US mainland and on Hawaii and Guam, as well as targets in South Korea and its vicinity.
The verbal exchanges are the latest in a series of incidents since the regime of Kim Jong-un carried out the country's third nuclear test on 12 February.
That drew renewed United Nations sanctions against North Korea, followed by more threats from Pyongyang, and by the US announcement earlier this month that it was beefing up its defences in Alaska with 14 new interceptor units, to defend against a North Korean attack.
At the same time US and South Korean military exercises are currently taking place – the statement from the North Korean military singled out the use of B-52 bombers, capable of delivering nuclear weapons, as justification for its vow to take "practical military action" to protect the country's national sovereignty. (© Independent News Service)