Pyongyang in a rage over US show of force

A rally at the Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang celebrating the success of a recent nuclear test. North Korea conducted its fifth and largest-ever nuclear test last Friday.
A rally at the Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang celebrating the success of a recent nuclear test. North Korea conducted its fifth and largest-ever nuclear test last Friday. PHOTO: REUTERS

North Korea warns it is ready to strike back after two American bombers fly over South Korea

SEOUL • North Korea yesterday accused the United States of pushing the Korean peninsula to "the point of explosion" after it dispatched two huge bombers in a show of force against Pyongyang.

The supersonic B-1B Lancers flew over South Korea on Tuesday as Washington vowed its "unshakeable commitment" to defend its allies in the region following North Korea's fifth and largest-ever nuclear test conducted last Friday.

Washington called the demonstration "just one example of the full range of military capabilities". It took similar military actions following previous atomic tests.

North Korea labelled the flyover by the "infamous" nuclear bombers as Washington's attempt to seek "an opportunity of mounting a pre-emptive nuclear attack", referring to US plans to deploy further strategic assets to the peninsula.

"These extremely reckless provocations of the US imperialist warmongers are pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula to the point of explosion hour by hour," the state-run KCNA news agency said.

It warned that the North Korean army was fully armed with "all means for military counter-action" to strike back at any enemy attack in "a single blow".

The US, Japan and South Korea are pushing for tough new United Nations sanctions on North Korea, which is battling its worst flood disaster since 1945.

The international sanctions had already been tightened in March to punish Pyongyang for its fourth nuclear test in January.

US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in New York on Sunday to discuss responses to the threat.

China, the North's chief ally, backed the March resolution but is more resistant to the harsh new sanctions.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung Se by phone, expressing Beijing's opposition to the North's latest nuclear test but also reiterating its opposition to the planned deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) anti-missile system in South Korea, China's Foreign Ministry said.

Beijing's official People's Daily newspaper yesterday called the US a troublemaker and said that it has no right to lecture China about taking responsibility for reining in North Korea as tensions on the peninsula are a direct result of US actions.

China and Russia have pushed for a resumption of six-party talks on denuclearisation in North Korea. The talks, which also involve Japan, South Korea and the US, have been on hold since 2008.

Washington has said it is willing to negotiate with the North if the country commits to denuclearisation, which Pyongyang has refused to do.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will seek Cuba's help in responding to North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes during a rare visit to Havana next week, a spokesman said. Cuba is one of North Korea's few diplomatic allies.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'Pyongyang in a rage over US show of force'. Print Edition | Subscribe