North Korea today warned of "merciless retaliation" should US and South Korean forces intrude on its territory. The comments came five days before the start of a major military exercise by Seoul and Washington, which Pyongyang claims is a rehearsal for invasion. "Our military and people cherish peace and do not want war," Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling communist party, said in a commentary.
"But should the enemies invade even 0.001mm into our territory, we will mobilise all our potential and deal retaliatory strikes that will be hundreds of thousands of times stronger." The paper added: "The United States and its puppet forces must learn that (the North's) revolutionary armed forces' strong military countermeasures will be taken in the form of resolute and merciless acts that cannot be matched by any means."
Rodong Sinmun said that while the United States professes to want better relations, "its actual intentions are aimed at stifling us with its military power." The March 9-20 exercise will involve a US aircraft carrier, 26,000 US troops and some 30,000-40,000 South Korean troops. The US says it is purely defensive. Fears of a border clash have grown after the North on Jan 30 scrapped peace accords with Seoul and warned of war.
It is also preparing to fire a rocket for what it calls a satellite launch, although Seoul and Washington say the real purpose is to test a missile that could theoretically reach Alaska. Last Saturday the North's military warned US troops to stop "provocations" in the buffer zone dividing the two Koreas or face a "resolute counteraction." The North held rare talks on Monday with the US-led UN military command. But sources said it renewed its complaints about the upcoming exercise during the 30-minute meeting.