North Korea threatens to hit back over US-led sanctions

South Korean marines taking part in the annual US-South Korea joint Foal Eagle exercises. Pyongyang has accused the US of holding joint military drills with South Korea and Japan as a dress rehearsal for invasion.
South Korean marines taking part in the annual US-South Korea joint Foal Eagle exercises. Pyongyang has accused the US of holding joint military drills with South Korea and Japan as a dress rehearsal for invasion.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SEOUL • North Korea has warned it will retaliate if the global community ramps up sanctions over its latest round of weapons tests.

The warning comes as President Donald Trump threatened that the United States was prepared to go it alone in bringing Pyongyang to heel if China did not step in.

The isolated state has quickened its missile programme in recent months, with a volley of tests it says are putting it closer to acquiring the ability to hit the US mainland with a nuclear weapon.

US-based analysts have said North Korea appears to be preparing a new atomic test. It has staged five nuclear tests so far, two last year.

North Korea's Foreign Ministry on Monday assailed Washington for its tough talk and for an ongoing joint military exercise with South Korea and Japan which Pyongyang sees as a dress rehearsal for invasion.

 

The "reckless actions" are driving the tense situation on the Korean peninsula "to the brink of a war", a spokesman was quoted as saying by the official KCNA news agency.

The idea that the US could deprive Pyongyang of its "nuclear deterrent" through sanctions is "the wildest dream".

"Now that the US fails to face up to the trend of the times but incites confrontation to strangle the DPRK (North Korea), the DPRK is left with no option but to take necessary counteraction against it. The world will soon witness what eventful steps the DPRK will take to frustrate the hideous and reckless sanctions racket," the spokesman said without elaborating.

North Korea frequently makes unspecific threats in its state media.

The statement comes ahead of the first face-to-face meeting between Mr Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping this week at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The comment by the North's Foreign Ministry spokesman also came hours before the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a Bill relisting the North as a state sponsor of terror, along with a resolution denouncing the North's nuclear and missile development.

The US Treasury hit 11 North Korean business representatives and an industrial firm with sanctions last week, seeking to further isolate the country's economy.

Professor Yang Moo Jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said the North is likely to hold off any provocative acts until after the Trump-Xi meeting.

"It is most likely to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the birth of its army on April 25 with either a sixth nuclear test or the launch of a satellite or an ICBM test," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'N. Korea threatens to hit back over US-led sanctions'. Print Edition | Subscribe