North Korea Warns of Nuclear Response to Naval Exercises

North Korea said it would counter U.S. and South Korean joint naval exercises with “nuclear deterrence” after the Obama administration said the government
in Pyongyang shouldn’t take any provocative steps.

North Korea will “legitimately counter with their powerful nuclear deterrence the largest-ever nuclear war exercises to be staged by the U.S. and the South Korean puppet forces,” the
National Defense Commission said, according to the Korean
Central News Agency.

The maneuvers, which involve 20 vessels and 200 aircraft from the U.S. and South Korea, pose a threat to the country’s sovereignty and security, Ri Tong Il, an official with North
Korea’s delegation to the Asean Security Forum, told reporters
in Hanoi yesterday.

Ri’s comments came after North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun sat in the same room with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Hanoi for a security meeting of Asia’s largest powers. Clinton condemned North Korea for being “on a campaign of provocative, dangerous behavior,” urging Kim Jong Il’s
regime to change.

Still, the “door remains open for North Korea,” Clinton later told reporters. “We are willing to meet with them, willing to negotiate, to move toward normal relations” if North
Korea commits itself to giving up its nuclear weapons program,
she said.

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said in Washington yesterday that North Korea “would be better served by reflecting on the current situation, not taking any further
aggressive actions or provocative steps.”

USS George Washington

The U.S. said this week it will intensify sanctions against North Korea and conduct military exercises with South Korea in waters surrounding the peninsula. The USS George Washington, a
nuclear-powered carrier, and three destroyers called into South
Korean ports this week in a show of force.

“North Korea may very well go ahead with missile launches or even a third nuclear test to show it won’t bend to U.S. pressure,” said Yang Moo Jin, a professor at the University of
North Korean Studies in Seoul. “North Korea must have sensed
that the U.S. and South Korea are after its regime’s collapse.”

Ri said the George Washington’s presence threatened security on the peninsula, which has been divided for more than half a century. Pak maintained the need for a peace treaty to
replace a cease-fire, signed in 1953, to guarantee the
peninsula’s security, Ri said.

“It’s no longer the 19th century with gunboat diplomacy,” Ri said. “It is a new century and the Asian countries are in need of peace and development.”

Cheonan Sinking

An international panel concluded that the March 26 sinking of the corvette Cheonan was caused by a torpedo fired from a North Korean mini-submarine. The United Nations Security Council
condemned the attack, which killed 46 sailors, without naming a

The investigation’s results have been “fabricated,” Ri said, adding that North Korea wouldn’t apologize for the incident as demanded by South Korea.

“If anyone should apologize, it should be South Korea, responsible for driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of an explosion,” Ri said. “We won’t tolerate any
attempt to put the blame on us.”

North Korea’s economy has been battered by UN sanctions limiting cross-border financial transactions, imposed after its nuclear tests in 2006 and last year. North Korea is willing to
return to the so-called six-party talks on its nuclear weapons
program “on an equal footing,” Ri said, repeating demands that
the sanctions be removed.

Japan Role

The disarmament talks, also involving China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S., haven’t convened since December 2008. All members of that forum attended this week’s security meeting
in Vietnam.

Japan will send four naval officers to the drills, the government’s top spokesman said today.

Four officers of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force will board a U.S. ship as observers for the joint military exercise from tomorrow to July 28 in the sea between South Korea and
Japan, said Yoshito Sengoku, chief cabinet secretary.

“It’s important to promote coordination among Japan, U.S. and South Korea,” Sengoku told reporters in Tokyo.

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US aircraft carrier leads drills with South Korea N. Korea takes personal offense, threatens nuclear war.

ABOARD USS GEORGE WASHINGTON – A nuclear-powered U.S. supercarrier led an armada of warships in exercises off the Korean peninsula on Sunday that North Korea has vowed to physically block and says could escalate into nuclear war.

U.S. military officials said the maneuvers, conducted with South Korean ships and Japanese observers, were intended to send a strong signal to the North that aggression in the region will not be tolerated.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been particularly high since the sinking in March of a South Korean naval vessel. Forty-six Korean sailors were killed in the sinking, which Seoul has called Pyongyang's worst military attack on it since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The military drills, code-named "Invincible Spirit," are to run through Wednesday with about 8,000 U.S. and South Korean troops, 20 ships and submarines and 200 aircraft. The Nimitz-class USS George Washington was deployed from Japan.

"We are showing our resolve," said Capt. David Lausman, the carrier's commanding officer.

North Korea has protested the drills, threatening to retaliate with "nuclear deterrence" and "sacred war."


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