SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – A North Korean state agency threatened yesterday to use nuclear weapons to “sink” Japan and reduce the United States to “ashes and darkness” for supporting a UN Security Council resolution and sanctions over its latest nuclear test.
The Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which handles the North’s external ties and propaganda, also called for the breakup of the Security Council, which it called “a tool of evil” made up of “money-bribed” countries that move at the order of the US.
“The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche. Japan is no longer needed to exist near us,” the committee said in a statement carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency.
Juche is the North’s ruling ideology that mixes Marxism and an extreme form of go-it-alone nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un.
Regional tension has risen markedly since the reclusive North conducted its sixth, and by far its most powerful, nuclear test on September 3, following a series of missile tests, including one that flew over Japan.
The 15-member Security Council voted unanimously on a US-drafted resolution and a new round of sanctions on Monday in response, banning North Korea’s textile exports that are the second largest only to coal and mineral, and capping fuel supplies.
The North reacted to the latest action by the Security Council, which had the backing of veto-holding China and Russia, by reiterating threats to destroy the US, Japan and South Korea.
“Let’s reduce the US mainland into ashes and darkness. Let’s vent our spite with mobilization of all retaliation means which have been prepared till now,” the statement said.
Despite the North’s threats, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he was against having nuclear weapons in his country, either by developing its own arsenal or bringing back US tactical nuclear weapons that were withdrawn in the early 1990s.
“To respond to North Korea by having our own nuclear weapons will not maintain peace on the Korean peninsula and could lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia,” Mr Moon said in an interview with CNN.
South Korea’s unification ministry also said it planned to provide $8 million through the UN World Food Programme and Unicef to help infants and pregnant women in the North.
The North’s latest threats also singled out Japan for “dancing to the tune” of the US, saying it should never be pardoned for not offering a sincere apology for its “never-to-be-condoned crimes against our people”, an apparent reference to Japan’s wartime aggression.
It also referred to South Korea as “traitors and dogs” of the US.
Japan criticised the North’s statement harshly.
“This announcement is extremely provocative and egregious. It is something that markedly heightens regional tension and is absolutely unacceptable,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, visiting India, called for strict enforcement of the UN resolution, saying the world must force a change.