North Korea threatens to reduce South's government 'to ashes'


North Korea's military warned yesterday of imminent "special actions" that would reduce South Korea's government to ashes within minutes, sharply escalating the rhetoric against its southern rival.

The threat from the North's military leadership comes amid concerns that Pyongyang may be plotting another provocation following an unsuccessful rocket launch condemned by the UN Security Council as a violation of a ban against missile activity.

North Korea followed up the rocket launch two days later by unveiling a new long-range missile at a military parade for the centenary of the birth of the late President Kim Il-sung.

There are new concerns that North Korea may conduct a nuclear test as it did after rocket launches in 2006 and 2009. South Korean intelligence officials say recent satellite images show the North has been digging a new tunnel in what could be preparations for a third atomic test.