NKorea Warns War Would Bring Nuclear Holocaust
NKorea warns war would bring 'nuclear holocaust'
By KIM KWANG-TAE and FOSTER KLUG, Associated Press Kim Kwang-tae And Foster
Klug, Associated Press - 2 hrs 30 mins ago
SEOUL, South Korea -
Korea welcomed the new year Saturday with a call for better ties with rival
South Korea, warning that war "will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust."
Despite calls in its annual New Year's message for a Korean peninsula free
of nuclear weapons, the
North, which has conducted two nuclear tests since 2006, also said its
military is ready for "prompt, merciless and annihilatory action" against
South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North,
said the editorial carried in the
Korean Central News Agency, even with its tough rhetoric, showed the North's
interest in resuming talks with the South.
The annual holiday message is scrutinized by officials and analysts in
neighboring countries for policy clues. This year, it received special
attention after the North's Nov. 23 artillery shelling of a South Korean
island near the
disputed western sea border, the first attack on a civilian area since the
1950-53 Korean War.
That barrage, which followed an alleged North Korean torpedoing of a South
Korean warship in March, sent tensions between the Koreas soaring and fueled
fears of war during the last weeks of 2010.
In South Korea, President Lee Myung-bak, dressed in traditional Korean
clothes, said in a televised New Year's address he would work toward peace.
"I am confident that we will be able to establish peace on the Korean
peninsula and continue sustained economic growth," he said.
North Korea said in its editorial that confrontation between the Koreas
should be quickly defused.
"The danger of war should be removed and peace safeguarded in the Korean
peninsula," said the message, which was also read by a North Korean
anchorwoman in a state television broadcast monitored in Seoul. "If a war
breaks out on this land, it will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust."
The message shows the North wants to rejoin
international nuclear disarmament talks, said Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea
analyst at Seoul's Dongguk University, noting there was no criticism of the
United States, which the North often lashes out at.
The Korean peninsula remains technically in a state of war because the 1950s
conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
Six-nation talks on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program have been
stalled for nearly two years.
The North has previously used aggression to force negotiations. Recently, it
has said it is willing to return to the talks. Washington and Seoul,
however, are insisting that the North make progress on past disarmament
commitments before negotiations can resume.
North Korea also stoked new worries about its nuclear program in November
when it revealed a uranium enrichment facility - which could give it a
second way to make atomic bombs. The North is believed to have enough
weaponized plutonium for at least a half-dozen atomic bombs.
In the North Korean capital, authoritarian leader Kim Jong Il enjoyed a
concert on New Year's Eve with his youngest son and heir apparent,
<http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110101/ap_on_re_as/as_koreas_clash> Kim Jong
Un. The elder Kim also attended a tank division training session, according
to a statement Friday by the North's official news agency.
On Saturday, dozens of well-dressed citizens and soldiers paid respect to
the country's late dynastic founder Kim Il Sung. After offering bouquets of
flowers, they bowed solemnly and saluted a huge bronze statue of Kim
standing on a hill overlooking the city, according to footage provided by
Associated Press Television News in Pyongyang. Children were filmed posing
for photos on model horses and families were seen walking along streets
beneath brightly colored New Year's posters.
"Under the leadership of the great leader Kim Jong Il, the future of Korea
will be brighter," said Kim Hye Gyong, a Pyongyang citizen interviewed by
APTN. "Today I greet new year 2011 with such happy feelings."
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]