Korean military exercise escalates bitter war of words

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The Independent Online

North and South Korea beat the drums of war yesterday, each threatening the other with swift retaliation if attacked.

Seoul has staged days of military drills in a show of force meant to deter North Korea, including live-fire exercises earlier this week on a frontline island shelled by the North last month. Angered by the exercises, North Korea threatened on Thursday that it would launch a "sacred" nuclear war if Seoul hit it, and warned that even the smallest intrusion would bring a devastating response.

Defence chief Kim Yong Chun said North Korea is "fully prepared to launch a sacred war" and would use its nuclear capabilities, calling Monday's drills a "grave military provocation".

Kim told a national meeting in Pyongyang that the North's military will deal "more devastating physical blows" to its enemies if they cross into the North's territory.