North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has responded to the U.S. flying two stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula with bellicose declarations that “the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation” by “physical means.”
Rockets are ready to hit American bases in the Pacific, the North Korean government said. The official KCNA news agency released photographs of the young dictator huddled in front of a map with senior generals. North Korean missiles could easily do serious damage to Seoul, South Korea, but experts are doubtful of the threat to U.S. Pacific bases.
Experts believe the rhetoric may be intended to rally North Korean citizens to their leader, rather than indicate a genuine intent to attack the U.S., The Guardian reports. The verbal threats have been intensifying since the U.N. agreed to a new round of sanctions to punish the country for a nuclear test conducted in mid-February.
Here is what the state news agency said: “He finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the KPA [Korean People’s Army], ordering them to be on standby for fire so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland, its military bases in the operational theatres in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Later on Friday, in the main square in Pyongyang, tens of thousands of North Koreans turned out for a 90-minute mass rally in support of Kim’s call to arms, the Associated Press reported. Men and women, many of them in olive drab uniforms, stood in arrow-straight lines, fists raised as they chanted, “Death to the US imperialists”. Placards in the plaza bore harsh words for South Korea as well, including, “Let’s rip the puppet traitors to death!”
The latest flurry of language came after the US flew two nuclear-capable stealth bombers over the peninsula on Thursday, dropping dummy munitions in joint military drills with South Korea. They flew from the US and back in what appeared to be the first exercise of its kind, designed to show America’s ability to conduct long-range, precision strikes “quickly and at will”, the US military said.
The US defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, said that the decision to send B-2 bombers to join the military drills was part of normal exercises and not intended to provoke North Korea. Hagel acknowledged, however, that North Korea’s belligerent tones and actions in recent weeks have ratcheted up the danger in the region, “and we have to understand that reality.”
Models of a North Korea Scud-B missile, center, and other South Korean missiles are displayed at the Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea.