North Korea warns of a nuclear strike on the US

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects a military unit in the hermit state. Reuters

PYONGYANG (Reuters) – North Korean state media yesterday warned of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of US aggression as a US Navy strike group steamed towards the western Pacific.
 
US President Donald Trump, who has urged China to do more to rein in its impoverished neighbor, said in a Tweet North Korea was “looking for trouble” and the United States would “solve the problem” with or without China’s help.
 
Tension has escalated sharply on the Korean peninsula with talk of military action by the United States gaining traction following its strikes last week against Syria and amid concerns the reclusive North may soon conduct a sixth nuclear test.
 
North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the country was prepared to respond to any aggression by the United States.
 
“Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the US invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theater but also in the US mainland,” it said.
 
South Korean acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn warned of “greater provocations” by North Korea and ordered the military to intensify monitoring and to ensure close communication with the United States.
 
“It is possible the North may wage greater provocations such as a nuclear test timed with various anniversaries including the Supreme People’s Assembly,” said Mr. Hwang, acting leader since former president Park Geun-hye was removed amid a graft scandal.
 
Mr. Trump said in a Tweet a trade deal between China and the United States would be “far better for them if they solved the North Korea problem.”
 
“If China decides to help, that would be great,” he said. “If not, we will solve the problem without them!”
 
Mr. Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met in Florida last week and Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Xi to do more to rein in North Korea.
 
The North convened a Supreme People’s Assembly session yesterday, one of its twice-yearly sessions in which major appointments are announced and national policy goals are formally approved. It did not immediately release details.
 
But South Korean officials took pains to quell talk in social media of an impending security crisis or outbreak of war.
 
“We’d like to ask precaution so as not to get blinded by exaggerated assessment about the security situation on the Korean peninsula,” Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said.
 
Saturday is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founding father and grandfather of current ruler, Kim Jong-un.
 
A military parade is expected in the North’s capital, Pyongyang, to mark the day. North Korea often also marks important anniversaries with tests of its nuclear or missile capabilities in breach of UN Security Council resolutions.
 
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent a message of congratulations to mark the event, lambasting “big powers” for their “expansionist” policy.
 
The North’s foreign ministry, in a statement carried by KCNA, said the US navy strike group’s approach showed America’s “reckless moves for invading had reached a serious phase.” “We never beg for peace but we will take the toughest counter-action against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep to the road chosen by ourselves,” an unidentified ministry spokesman said.
 
The Trump administration is reviewing its policy towards North Korea and has said all options are on the table, including military strikes, but US officials said non-military action appeared to be at the top of the list.
 
Russia’s foreign ministry, in a statement ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said it was concerned about many aspects of US foreign policy, particularly on North Korea.

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