SEOUL - North Korea’s National Defense Commission threatened Saturday to wage a “sacred war” against the United States and South Korea, if the two nations go ahead with scheduled naval maneuvers beginning Sunday in the Sea of Japan.
Pyongyang said it will respond to the sea exercises based on the country’s “nuclear deterrence.”
North Korea routinely makes similar threats when South Korea and the U.S. hold joint military exercises. The latest aggressive comments come amid increased tensions on the peninsula over the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on the North.
In Vietnam for the ASEAN forum, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said North Korea is an “isolated and belligerent” regime engaged in a “campaign of provocative, dangerous behavior.” Earlier this week, she announced new economic sanctions against Pyongyang.
North Korean spokesman Ri Tong Il described the planned exercise as a threat to his nation’s sovereignty.
Members of the U.S. and North Korean delegations did not meet at the ASEAN meeting, which has in the past been a venue for talks between the two sides.
The exercise was organized in response to the sinking in March of a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, killing 46 sailors. An international investigation concluded the ship had been torpedoed by a North Korean submarine. The North denies any responsibility.
A statement prepared for approval by all the countries at the forum expressed concern about the sinking but did not specifically blame any country.
The spat between the United States and North Korea diverted attention from other issues before the 27-member forum, which is hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and embraces other interested countries including China, Russia, Japan, North and South Korea and the United States.
Clinton said U.S. President Barack Obama will invite ASEAN leaders to Washington for a summit to take place later this year.
Source: VOA News