North Korea put its rocket units on standby on Friday to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea and the Pacific, after the United States flew two nuclear-capable stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula in a rare show of force.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed off on the order at a midnight meeting of top generals and “judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation”, official KCNA news agency said.
LIVE COVERAGE: North Korea
North Korea threatened on Tuesday to scrap an armistice that ended the 1950-53 civil war and sever a military “hotline” with the United States if South Korea and Washington pressed on with two-month-long war games.
It was a notable sharpening in the North’s often bellicose rhetoric and followed word from U.N. diplomats that the United States and China had struck a tentative deal on a draft U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution that would punish North Korea for its third nuclear test, which it conducted last month.
“We will completely nullify the Korean armistice,” the North’s KCNA news agency said, quoting the Korean People’s Army (KPA) Supreme Command spokesman.
North Korea has told its key ally, China, that it is prepared to stage one or even two more nuclear tests this year in an effort to force the United States into diplomatic talks with Pyongyang, said a source with direct knowledge of the message.
Further tests could also be accompanied this year by another rocket launch, said the source who has direct access to the top levels of government in both Beijing and Pyongyang.
The isolated regime conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday, drawing global condemnation and a stern warning from the United States that it was a threat and a provocation.
“It’s all ready. A fourth and fifth nuclear test and a rocket launch could be conducted soon, possibly this year,” the source said, adding that the fourth nuclear test would be much larger than the third at an equivalent of 10 kilotons of TNT.
Cronin: North Korea test a blow to China
Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, says North Korea’s nuclear test puts serious strain on an already complicated, but critical, relationship between Pyongyang and Beijing. (February 12, 2013)
North Korea’s missile tests and menacing rhetoric have disappointed U.S. expectations that young leader Kim Jong-un would be different than his father but Washington still hopes to persuade Pyongyang to change course, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.
“With a new young leader we all expected something different,” Clinton said in a town hall-style session put together by the State Department and broadcast worldwide. “We expected him to focus on improving the lives of the North Korea people, not just the elite, but everyone.
“Instead he has engaged in very provocative rhetoric and behavior,” she said of Kim, who took over his impoverished, isolated Northeast Asian nation when his father, Kim Jong-il, died in December 2011.
North Korea successfully launched a rocket on Wednesday, boosting the credentials of its new leader and stepping up the threat the isolated and impoverished state poses to opponents.
The rocket, which North Korea says put a weather satellite into orbit, has been labeled by the United States, South Korea and Japan as a test of technology that could one day deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting targets as far away as the continental United States.
“The satellite has entered the planned orbit,” a North Korean television news reader clad in traditional Korean garb announced, after which the station played patriotic songs with the lyrics “Chosun (Korea) does what it says”.
The rocket was launched just before 10 a.m. (0100 GMT), according to defense officials in South Korea and Japan, and was more successful than a rocket launched in April that flew for less than two minutes.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un prepares to take a ride with other high-level officials during the opening ceremony of the Rungna People’s Pleasure Ground on Rungna Islet along the Taedong River in Pyongyang in this July 25, 2012 photograph released by the North’s KCNA to Reuters on July 26, 2012.
The Rungna People’s Pleasure Ground has attractions such as a dolphinarium, a wading pool, a fun fair and a mini golf course, according to KCNA. REUTERS/KCNA
North Korea’s new young leader, Kim Jong-un, is married, state media said on Wednesday, putting an end to speculation over the relationship with a woman seen at his side during a recent gala.
The announcement, which fits a trend the upbeat Kim appears to have taken to break out of the dour management style of his father, Kim Jong-il, came just two weeks after he was seen at the performance accompanied by the woman, with rumors swirling as to whether she was his wife, lover or sister.
Some observers in South Korea speculated she was a singer he dated years ago before his father put a stop to it, but who was now back on the scene.
Exclusive: North Korea’s nuclear test ready “soon”
North Korea has almost completed preparations for a third nuclear test, a senior source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters, which will draw further international condemnation following a failed rocket launch if it goes ahead.
The isolated and impoverished state sacrificed the chance of closer ties with the United States when it launched the long-range rocket on April 13 and was censured by the U.N. Security Council, including the North’s sole major ally, China.
Critics say the rocket launch was aimed at honing the North’s ability to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States, a move that would dramatically increase its military and diplomatic heft.
Now the North appears to be about to carry out a third nuclear test after two in 2006 and 2009.