North Korea Puts Troops on War Footing and Warns of ‘Horrible Disaster’

Joint South Korean, U.S. and Japanese naval exercises provoke bellicose threats from Pyongyang

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US Navy / Reuters

U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington departs the port of Busan July 25, 2010.

Pyongyang has put its forces put on high alert after U.S. warships entered the South Korean port of Busan in preparation for a joint military exercise with Seoul and Tokyo.

On Monday Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Pyongyang regime, called the exercise a “bellicose attempt to escalate the situation on the Korean Peninsula […] by openly threatening it with nukes,” referring to the presence of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. (The U.S. has a policy of neither confirming nor denying whether its ships are equipped with nuclear armaments.)

A North Korean military spokesman said that the U.S. would be “wholly accountable for the unexpected horrible disaster” that faced its “imperialist aggression forces.”

Hostile rhetoric is a common tactic used by the North Korean regime, in order to further its domestic and international agenda. Experts view this latest statement as another attempt to pressure the U.S. into resuming the long-stalled six-party talks for denuclearizing North Korea in exchange for aid.

“We are closely watching the movement of the North Korean military,” a South Korean military official told the Korean Herald. The country’s Defense Ministry added that the joint U.S.-Japan-South Korean naval exercise was a routine event, and rebuffed criticism from the North as “wrong.”

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