N Korea threatens to attack

2009-05-27 18:03

Seoul - North Korea threatened military action on Wednesday against US and South Korean warships plying the waters near the Koreas' disputed maritime border, raising the spectre of a naval clash just days after the regime's underground nuclear test.

Pyongyang, reacting angrily to Seoul's decision to join an international programme to intercept ships suspected of aiding nuclear proliferation, called the move tantamount to a declaration of war.

"Now that the South Korean puppets were so ridiculous as to join in the said racket and dare declare a war against compatriots," North Korea is "compelled to take a decisive measure", the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried by state media.

Seoul's decision comes at a time when "the state of military confrontation is growing acute and there is constant danger of military conflict", the statement warned.

South Korea's military said on Wednesday it was prepared to "respond sternly" to any North Korean provocation.

'Blatant violation' of international law

North Korea's latest belligerence comes as the UN Security Council debates how to punish the regime for testing a nuclear bomb on Monday in what President Barack Obama called a "blatant violation" of international law.

Ambassadors from the five permanent veto-wielding council members - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - as well as Japan and South Korea were working out the details of a new resolution.

South Korea, divided from the North by a heavily fortified border, had responded to the nuclear test by joining the Proliferation Security Initiative, a US-led network of nations seeking to stop ships from transporting the materials used in nuclear bombs.

Seoul previously resisted joining the PSI in favour of seeking reconciliation with Pyongyang, but pushed those efforts aside on Monday after the nuclear test in the northeast.

North Korea warned on Wednesday that any attempt to stop, board or inspect its ships would constitute a "grave violation".

The regime also said it could no longer promise the safety of US and South Korean warships and civilian vessels in the waters near the Korea's western maritime border.

"They should bear in mind that the (North) has tremendous military muscle and its own method of strike able to conquer any targets in its vicinity at one stroke or hit the US on the raw, if necessary," it said.

The maritime border has long been a flashpoint between the two Koreas. North Korea disputes the line unilaterally drawn by the United Nations at the end of the Koreas' three-year war in 1953, and has demanded it be redrawn further south.

The truce signed in 1953 and subsequent military agreements call for both sides to refrain from warfare, but doesn't cover the waters off the west coast.

North Korea has used the maritime border dispute to provoke two deadly naval skirmishes - in 1999 and 2002.

On Wednesday, the regime promised "unimaginable and merciless punishment" for anyone daring to challenge its ships.

Pyongyang also reportedly restarted its weapons-grade nuclear plant, South Korean media said.

Reprocessing nuclear fuel

The Chosun Ilbo newspaper said US spy satellites detected signs of steam at the North's Yongbyon nuclear complex, an indication it may have started reprocessing nuclear fuel. The report, which could not be confirmed, quoted an unidentified government official. South Korea's Yonhap news agency also carried a similar report.

The move would be a major setback for efforts aimed at getting North Korea to disarm.

North Korea had stopped reprocessing fuel rods as part of an international deal. In 2007, it agreed to disable the Yongbyon reactor in exchange for aid and demolished a cooling tower at the complex.

The North has about 8 000 spent fuel rods which, if reprocessed, could allow it to harvest 13 to six to eight kilograms of plutonium - enough to make at least one nuclear bomb, experts said. North Korea is believed to have enough plutonium for at least a half dozen atomic bombs.

Further racketing up tensions, North Korea test-fired five short-range missiles over the past two days, South Korean officials confirmed.

A North Korean newspaper, Minju Joson, said in commentary on Wednesday that Pyongyang does not fear repercussions for its actions.

"It is a laughable delusion for the United States to think that it can get us to kneel with sanctions," it said. "We've been living under US sanctions for decades, but have firmly safeguarded our ideology and system while moving our achievements forward. The US sanctions policy toward North Korea is like striking a rock with a rotten egg."

- SAPA

Read more on:    united nations  |  un security council  |  barack obama  |  japan  |  seoul  |  north korea  |  russia  |  britain  |  china  |  pyongyang  |  france  |  south korea  |  west coast  |  united states  |  korea  |  news agency
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.
 

Inside News24

 
 

ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router The B683 wireless gateway (hereinafter...

From R1671.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.