SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) – North Korea’s military chief of staff accused the United States and South Korea Wednesday of plotting war but said his country’s own weaponry could destroy their armaments in “a single blow”.
Vice-Marshal Ri Yong-Ho also repeated threats of war against South Korea, vowing to “cut the throats” of those seen as defaming Pyongyang’s leadership.
The North has made a series of increasingly strongly worded threats against the South in recent weeks. On Monday its military threatened “special actions” soon to turn parts of Seoul to ashes.
Some analysts believe the new young leader Kim Jong-Un is trying to bolster his military credentials and divert attention from a failed rocket launch this month.
Ri, in a speech marking army day, credited Jong-Un’s late father Kim Jong-Il with strengthening the 1.2 million-strong military in the nuclear-armed state.
Because of this, he said, “our military is now equipped with strong modern weapons capable of destroying what the imperialists call highly sophisticated weapons by a single blow”.
The launch, which attracted UN condemnation, was to have been the centerpiece of celebrations in mid-April marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding leader Kim Il-Sung.
The North bridled at comments by the South’s President Lee Myung-Bak and conservative media, who said the money spent on the launch could have bought food for the perennially hungry nation.
“Our military and people are full of rage against the Lee Myung-Bak’s traitor groups, who dared to commit such an extreme criminal act as defaming our system and the top leadership,” Ri told a national meeting in the April 25 House of Culture.
“Our military and people will launch a retaliatory war in our own way… to cut the throats of the reckless provocateurs and crush the source of provocations without a trace.”
The US and its ally the South were making “ever-intensifying plots for war”, he said.
The ceremony attended by Kim Jong-Un and other top leaders marked what the North calls the 80th anniversary of the military’s founding, during the guerrilla struggle against Japanese colonial forces.
The North says its rocket launch was part of a peaceful bid to put a satellite in orbit, and not a disguised missile test as the US and its allies maintain.
Some analysts believe it will now stage a nuclear test, as it did in 2006 and 2009 following international censure of its rocket launches.
A former chief US nuclear negotiator said Wednesday any third test would be “somehow different and bigger” than the previous two.
Christopher Hill did not elaborate in an interview in Seoul with Yonhap news agency. Some analysts believe it will use fuel from a uranium enrichment programme disclosed in 2010, rather than plutonium as previously. – Agence France-Presse