North Korea 'readies rockets to attack United States targets'

Kim Jong-un responded to use of the B-2 bombers by the United States by saying his rocket forces were ready 'to settle accounts with the US'

American and South Korean intelligence officials were watching for unusual troop or hardware movements in North Korea tonight hours after the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, publicly ordered that his rocket arsenals be readied to strike at targets including military bases in the Pacific and the United States mainland.

There is doubt whether North Korean missiles could reach the western seaboard of the US or even Hawaii, but no one is ready to ignore the sudden spike in belligerent rhetoric. Earlier this month US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that $1bn would be spent strengthening America’s ballistic missile interception system in Alaska. North Korea possesses Soviet-era Scud missiles that could reach Seoul, while its long-range weapons could bring American bases in Guam and Okinawa, Japan, into range.

“If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, [we] should mercilessly strike the US mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theatres in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea,” the North Korean news agency reported yesterday.  It cited Kim Jong-un decreeing that the “time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation”.

The North Korean President has been issuing increasingly fiery statements in recent days as the US and South Korea have conducted joint military drills on the peninsula, which  included America flying two of its B-2 stealth bombers from a base in Missouri to drop dummy bombs on an uninhabited South Korean archipelago. The UN tightened sanctions on North Korea following a three-stage missile launch last December and an underground nuclear device explosion in February, while America and countries including Japan and Australia have also recently imposed new economic sanctions on Pyongyang.

The rising tensions were evident on the streets of the North Korean capital yesterday, where thousands gathered, punching their fists in the air and chanting “death to the US imperialists”.

Earlier last week Pyongyang announced it was ending its compliance with the nearly 60-year-old armistice that ended the Korean War and severing a military communications hotline with the South. While statements about targeting US bases in the region and South Korea also trickled out last week, the threat was given more force yesterday because for the first time it was delivered personally by the President.

Seoul confirmed it was monitoring the North closely. “We believe they are taking follow-up steps,” said Kim Min-seok, spokesman of the South Korean Defense Ministry, alluding to movements of North Korean military units.

Images released by the state-run KCNA news agency showed the leader, who took over when his father, Kim Jong-Il, died suddenly in 2011, in a military situation room apparently signing the order to put the weapons on standby. On the wall is a map entitled “Strategic Forces’ US Mainland Striking Plan”, showing missile trajectories heading towards Washington DC, Los Angeles and, oddly, Austin, Texas.

“North Korea continues to openly threaten the United States,” the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul, said in Washington yesterday. “While it is unlikely that the regime has the capability to carry out its plots, we still cannot ignore its violent intentions.  We must remain vigilant against this escalating enemy.”

China, which ostensibly remains North Korea’s only ally, urged restraint while making no mention of the flight of the B2 bombers. Moscow was less circumspect. “We are concerned that alongside the adequate, collective reaction of the UN Security Council, unilateral action is being taken around North Korea that is increasing military activity,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, adding: “The situation could simply get out of control.”

US allies in the region that could be threatened by North Korea should be reassured by the B-2 over-flights, officials said.  “The reaction to the B-2 that we’re most concerned about is not necessarily the reaction it might elicit in North Korea, but rather among our Japanese and Korean allies,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the Pentagon. “Those exercises are mostly to assure our allies that they can count on us to be prepared and to help them deter conflict.”

Nations refuse to sign 'flawed' arms treaty

AP

Iran, Syria and North Korea have blocked the adoption of the first international treaty to regulate the $70bn global conventional arms trade, complaining that it was flawed and failed to ban weapons sales to rebel groups.

UN member states began meeting last week in a push to hammer out a binding international treaty to end the lack of regulation over cross-border conventional arms sales.

Human rights groups say a treaty is needed to halt the uncontrolled flow of arms that they say fuels wars and rights abuses. Delegates to the conference said they were close to approving the treaty, before Iran, Syria and North Korea blocked it.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy