North Korea could react to a potential US strike by targeting South Korea or Japan.
NORTH KOREA HAS threatened to launch missile tests “every week”, keeping up its drumbeat as Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Japan with a renewed security commitment designed to soothe nerves over Pyongyang’s atomic weapons programme.
The North, which is intent on developing a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland US, defied international pressure on Sunday with a test that failed immediately after launch.
As fears grow that it may also be preparing for its sixth nuclear weapons test, Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-Ryol said that its programme would only escalate.
“We’ll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis,” Han told the BBC in an interview, threatening “all-out war” if the US took any action against it.
In South Korea on the first leg of an Asian tour, Pence visited the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone separating the two Koreas and warned Pyongyang against further provocations, saying “all options are on the table”.
North Korea could react to a potential US strike by targeting South Korea or Japan, and officials in both countries have been ill at ease with the more bellicose language deployed by President Donald Trump’s administration.
Pence pointed to Trump’s recent strikes on a Syrian airbase and an Islamic State complex in Afghanistan as a warning to Pyongyang not to underestimate the administration’s resolve.
Throughout his bareknuckle election campaign, Trump repeatedly called into question a mutual defence treaty between Japan and the United States, suggesting Tokyo should pay for its own security.
But now, Pence will try to reassure his jittery hosts that those decades-old security commitments are ironclad, a necessity made more acute after Washington’s refusal to rule out military action against the regime.
Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington have soared in recent weeks as a series of North Korean missile tests have prompted ever-more severe warnings from Trump’s administration.
Asked by a reporter what message he had for North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-Un, Trump replied “Gotta behave”.
North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations reiterated on the weekend that the North is ready to respond to any US missile or nuclear strike.
“If the United States dares opt for a military action… the DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the Americans,” Kim told a news conference, using the abbreviation of the country’s official name.
“We will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs.”
Like South Korea, Japan already faces a direct threat from the secretive regime.
In early March, the North simultaneously fired four ballistic missiles off its east coast, three of which fell provocatively close to Japan, in what it said was a drill for an attack on US bases in the country.
© – AFP, 2017