North Korea approves nuclear strike on US

Pentagon deploys missile defence system in Pacific in response to ‘real and clear danger’

The Pentagon last night said that the US advanced ballistic missile defence system would be deployed in the Pacific in a direct response to increased threats from North Korea.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defence System (Thaad) will be stationed on the Pacific island of Guam within weeks, in what appears to be a direct response to heightened rhetoric from North Korea last night.

Shortly before the Pentagon announcement, the North Korean Army said it had ratified a “merciless” attack against the US – potentially involving a “cutting-edge” nuclear strike.

“The moment of explosion is approaching fast,” warned the military in a statement on the state news agency KCNA. With war ready to break out “today or tomorrow,” Pyongyang said the US had “better ponder over the prevailing grave situation”.

US authorities claimed the deployment of the nuclear missile defence system would “strengthen our regional defence posture against the North Korean regional ballistic missile threat”.

Both developments came after North Korea yesterday barred South Korean workers from entering the Kaesong joint industrial zone, north of their  demilitarised border. The move, which will only deepen tensions on the peninsula, came 24 hours after the North announced it was restarting the mothballed plutonium reactor at its Yongbyon facility, thereby signalling its intention to step up its nuclear weapons programme.

The interruption at Kaesong is seen by some experts as an especially ominous development, given that – with the exception of three days in 2009 – the complex had remained open through the string of previous crises since it opened in 2004 and is a rare enduring instance of co-operation between the two Koreas.

The closure “is something that was less expected, and  is less directly in North Korea’s interests,” Patrick Cronin, a senior analyst with the Centre for a New American Security in Washington, said. “Is this a short-term demonstration of dissatisfaction with US-South Korean policy, or a portent of something more drastic at Kaesong?”

For the South, the world’s 15th largest economy, Kaesong is of relatively minor significance, producing annually some $470m worth of goods which are shipped back to South Korea and then exported. But for the North it is a precious source of hard currency and jobs – but one that for now at least seems in jeopardy.

The move is thus being generally seen as yet another act of brinkmanship in the North’s confrontation with South Korea and its protector, the US.

As Pyongyang has stepped up its provocations, so the US and North Korea have continued, more ostentatiously than ever, the military exercises that they conduct each spring.

After despatching nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers from their base in the US to take part, Washington has positioned a second missile-defence destroyer off the Korean peninsula – in reaction to Pyongyang’s recent threats to target US bases in South Korea, where 28,500 American troops are stationed, and in the Pacific.

“Let me be perfectly clear,” Secretary of State John Kerry said this week after talks with his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se, “the United States will defend and protect ourselves and our treaty ally, the Republic of Korea [South Korea].”

The Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, went further yesterday, claiming North Korea’s actions represented a “real and clear danger” to the US and its allies.

Although Pyongyang’s current rhetoric is of a violence without precedent, some US analysts still believe the North is playing a familiar game – doing everything in its power to secure concessions from the West.

They would come both in the shape of economic assistance and diplomatically, in a resumption of the long-suspended six-nation talks over its nuclear programme.

So far though the US has given not the slightest public indication it is ready to go along.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

Science teachers needed in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits