N. Korea says US threats make war unavoidable

US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber (centre) flying over South Korea with other US and South Korean fighter jets during a joint military drill in a photo released by the South Korean Defence Ministry on Wednesday.
US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber (centre) flying over South Korea with other US and South Korean fighter jets during a joint military drill in a photo released by the South Korean Defence Ministry on Wednesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

China urges 'calm and restraint' as tensions in Korean peninsula rise markedly

SEOUL • Large military drills being carried out by the United States and South Korea, and US threats of a preemptive war against Pyongyang have made the outbreak of war on the Korean peninsula "an established fact", North Korea's foreign ministry said.

A spokesman for the North's foreign ministry also blamed "confrontational warmongering" remarks by US officials for pushing the peninsula to the brink of war.

"We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it," the spokesman said late on Wednesday in a statement carried by North Korea's official KCNA news agency.

China called for "calm and restraint" yesterday. "The outbreak of war is not in any side's interest. The ones that will suffer the most are ordinary people," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in a statement.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen markedly in recent months after North Korea's latest missile and nuclear tests, conducted in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions and international condemnation.

On Wednesday, a US B-1B bomber flew from the Pacific US-administered territory of Guam to join the exercises, which will run until today.


US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber (centre) flying over South Korea with other US and South Korean fighter jets during a joint military drill in a photo released by the South Korean Defence Ministry on Wednesday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The flights by the B-1B, one of the US' largest strike aircraft, have played a leading role in Washington's attempts to increase pressure on North Korea to abandon its weapons programmes.

In September, B-1Bs were among a formation of US military aircraft that flew further north up North Korea's coast than at any time in the past 17 years, according to the US Pacific Command.

That prompted North Korea's Foreign Minister, Mr Ri Yong Ho, to warn that the North could shoot down the US bombers even if they did not enter North Korean airspace.

"B1-B bombers have been regularly dispatched to the Korean peninsula over the past years; however, it seems that the US Air Force might have enhanced its training to better prepare for actual warfare," said Mr Yang Uk, a senior fellow at the Korea Defence and Security Forum.

While B-1Bs are no longer equipped to carry nuclear weapons of their own, they would be key to any strike targeting major North Korean facilities, he said.

White House National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster said at the weekend that the possibility of war with North Korea was "increasing every day".

The rising tensions coincide with a rare visit to the isolated North by the UN's political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman this week, the highest-level UN official to visit North Korea since 2012.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2017, with the headline 'N. Korea says US threats make war unavoidable'. Print Edition | Subscribe