Sunday, 22 April, 2018

North Korea says 'don't mess with us' as US plans next move

Melinda Barton | 21 April, 2017, 19:29

U.S. officials said there was a higher-than-usual level of activity by Chinese bombers, signalling a possible heightened state of readiness by Beijing, reclusive North Korea's sole major ally, although the officials played down concerns and left open a range of possible reasons.

U.S. defence secretary Jim Mattis warned that North Korea's latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation and assured allies in Asia that America was ready to work to achieve a peaceful denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Pointing to the quarter-century since the United States first confronted North Korea over its attempts to build nuclear weapons, the vice president said a period of patience had followed.

They came hours after state media in Pyongyang warned that a pre-emptive strike by North Korea would result in the US and South Korea being "completely destroyed in an instant".

North Korea reacted angrily to the resolution, calling the statement "impudent words" and pointed fingers at the United States as the main aggressor in the region. It also stated that Pyongyang's ballistic missile launches are "illegal" and that the country has been developing nuclear weapons.

The prime minister denied he was over-estimating the influence of Beijing on the Kim Jong Un - having discussed the issue of North Korean aggression with Chinese officials for years.

Previous administrations have taken that stance on numerous occasions.

It was a day after a huge military parade in Pyongyang, which also marked the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung. He said he was confident Chinese president Xi Jinping would "try very hard" to pressure Beijing's ally and neighbour North Korea over its nuclear and missile programmes.

South Korean presidential candidates clashed on Wednesday night in a TV debate over the planned US-supplied Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, which has angered China.

Hwang Kyoahn, South Korea's acting president, called for military and security ministries to remain vigilant in a meeting Thursday with top officials.

But 38 North, a website that monitors North Korea's activities, said satellite imagery from April 16 indicates little activity around the north portal, the tunnel that appeared to be the site of preparations earlier this month.

U.S. options are limited as a result of Seoul's location as well. -Korean Institute at Johns Hopkins University. Multiple US officials said all current anti-missile ships and other ground-based interceptors in Alaska are available.

Trump also told reporters his administration was analyzing the Iran nuclear deal "very carefully", and would have more to say about its fate in the "not-too-distant future".

The two Koreas remain technically at war after the 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.