Fri | Aug 18, 2017

North Korea decries US carrier dispatch as parliament meets

Published:Wednesday | April 12, 2017 | 4:00 AM
A US Marine soldier conducts the US-South Korea joint Exercise Operation Pacific Reach in Pohang, South Korea, yesterday.

PYONGYANG (AP):

North Korea's parliament convened yesterday amid heightened tensions on the divided peninsula, with the United States and South Korea conducting their biggest-ever military exercises and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier heading to the area in a show of American strength.

North Korea vowed a tough response to any military moves that might follow the US decision to send the carrier and its battle group to waters off the Korean Peninsula.

"We will hold the US wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions," a spokesman for its Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The statement followed an assertion by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that US missile strikes against a Syrian airbase in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack carry a message for any nation operating outside of international norms. He didn't specify North Korea, but the context was clear enough.

"If you violate international agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken," Tillerson told ABC's 'This Week'.

WAR ON THE HORIZON

Pyongyang is always extremely sensitive to the annual US-South Korea war games, which it sees as an invasion rehearsal, and justifies its nuclear weapons as defensive in nature. It has significantly turned up the volume of its rhetoric that war could be on the horizon if it sees any signs of aggression from south of the Demilitarised Zone.

"This goes to prove that the US reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase of its scenario," the North's statement said, referring to the country by its formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "If the US dares opt for a military action, crying out for 'pre-emptive attack' ... the DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US."