Sunday 23 July 2017

North Korea vows to defend itself against 'reckless US moves for war'

US Navy personnel prepare to launch an F18 fighter jet on the deck of USS Carl Vinson during a routine exercise in the South China Sea last month. Photo: Erik de Castro/ Reuters
US Navy personnel prepare to launch an F18 fighter jet on the deck of USS Carl Vinson during a routine exercise in the South China Sea last month. Photo: Erik de Castro/ Reuters

Eric Talmadge

North Korea has vowed to bolster its defences to protect itself against air strikes like the ones US President Donald Trump ordered against an air base in Syria.

The North called the air strikes "absolutely unpardonable" and said they prove its nuclear weapons are justified to protect the country against Washington's "ever more reckless moves for a war".

The comments were made by a foreign ministry official and carried yesterday by North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The air strikes, announced shortly after Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up dinner at a two-day summit in Florida last week, were retaliation against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a chemical weapons attack against civilians caught up in his country's long civil war.

"Some forces are loud-mouthed that the recent US military attack on Syria is an action of warning us, but we are not frightened by it," the report said, adding that the North's "tremendous military muscle with a nuclear force as its pivot" would foil any aggression by the US.

"We will bolster up in every way our capability for self-defence to cope with the US's ever more reckless moves for a war and defend ourselves with our own force," it said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: AP

North Korea has long claimed that the United States is preparing to conduct similar precision strikes against its territory or even launch an all-out invasion.

It claims its nuclear weapons are a necessary deterrent to the US military threat. Washington denies it has any intention of invading the North.

Tensions have been higher than usual over the past few weeks, because annual war games between the US and South Korean militaries are under way. The exercises this year are the biggest ever and have included stealth fighter training and other manoeuvres that are particularly sensitive to North Korea.

The North test-launched a ballistic missile just ahead of the Trump-Xi meeting and has been rumoured to be preparing for a possible nuclear test.

The Korean Peninsula remains technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with an armistice, not a formal peace treaty.

North Korea considers Syria an ally. But unlike Syria, experts warn that North Korea has a means of striking back if provoked.

Along with its nuclear and long-range missile capabilities, the North has its artillery and short-range missiles trained on South Korean capital Seoul.

Irish Independent

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