North Korea threatens US military bases

Pyongyang says it will target bases on US mainland, Hawaii and Guam

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un watches soldiers of the Korean People's Army taking part in the landing and anti-landing drills. Photograph: KCNA/Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un watches soldiers of the Korean People's Army taking part in the landing and anti-landing drills. Photograph: KCNA/Reuters

 

North Korea repeated threats to target US military bases on today as Washington and its allies tightened economic sanctions by targeting Pyongyang's main foreign exchange bank with new measures.

The rhetoric from North Korea - which has threatened the United States with nuclear war and rehearsed drone attacks on South Korea - and Washington's hardening reaction drew more concern from China, North Korea’s one major ally, which said the situation was "sensitive".

Pyongyang says United Nations sanctions, agreed after North Korea carried out a third nuclear test in February, are part of a Washington-led plot to topple its leadership.

"From this moment, the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army will be putting into combat duty posture No. 1 all field artillery units, including long-range artillery units and strategic rocket units, that will target all enemy objects in US invasionary bases on its mainland, Hawaii and Guam," the North's KCNA news agency said.

The order was issued in a statement from the North's military "supreme command".

South Korea's defence ministry said it saw no sign of imminent military action by North Korea and most military analysts say Pyongyang will not risk a conflict with the United States that it would lose.

South Korea and the US military are conducting drills until the end of April, which they have stressed are strictly defensive in nature.

North Korea accuses Washington of war preparations by using B-52 bombers which have flown over the Korean peninsula as part of the drills, and it has abrogated an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

Officials said Japan and Australia plan to sanction North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank as part of US.-led efforts targeting Pyongyang's funding for its nuclear programme.

China again called on all parties to show restraint. "At present, the situation on the Korean peninsula remains complex and sensitive," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

Pyongyang's aggressive rhetoric appears to mark a further attempt to boost the military credentials of Kim Jong-un, who took power in December 2011 after the death of his father, and has cemented the role of the military and the North's nuclear weapons and missile ambitions with the nuclear test and two long-range rocket launches.

KCNA said on today that Kim had guided a landing operation by combined units including the North Korean navy.

"This is a mythmaking for the (military) commander," said Jeung Young-tae, a senior analyst at the Korea Institute of National Unification in Seoul.

South Korea marked the third anniversary on Tuesday of the sinking of a navy ship that killed 46 sailors that it has blamed on the North. Pyongyang denies the charge.

Reuters