North Korea threatens war against U.S.
By HANS GREIMEL, Associated Press Writer 47 minutes
SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea warned on Wednesday
that increased U.S. pressure over the regime's
reported nuclear test could be considered an act of
war, and South Korea suggested it would build up its
conventional arsenal to deal with its belligerent
North Korea's No. 2 leader threatened to conduct more
nuclear tests if the United States continued what he
called its "hostile attitude."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United
States would not attack North Korea, rejecting a
suggestion that Pyongyang may feel it needs nuclear
weapons to stave off an Iraq-style U.S. invasion.
In its first formal statement since the test, North
Korea said it could respond to U.S. pressure with
"If the U.S. keeps pestering us and increases
pressure, we will regard it as a declaration of war
and will take a series of physical corresponding
measures," the North's Foreign Ministry said in a
statement carried by the official Korean Central News
Agency. The statement didn't specify what those
measures could be.
Japan planned to impose a total ban on North Korean
imports and prohibit its ships from entering Japanese
ports, a news report said. The sanctions will also
expand restrictions on North Korean nationals entering
Japan, the country's public broadcaster NHK said.
The sanctions, which also expand restrictions on North
Korean nationals entering Japan, are to be announced
following an emergency security meeting headed by
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later Wednesday, according
Cabinet spokesman Hiroshi Suzuki confirmed a security
meeting was scheduled, but refused to discuss its
agenda. He said sanctions, if approved, could take
Along the razor-wired no-man's-land separating the
divided Koreas, communist troops on the North's side
were more boldly trying to provoke their Southern
counterparts: spitting across the demarcation line,
making throat-slashing hand gestures, flashing their
middle finger and trying to talk to the troops, said
U.S. Army Maj. Jose DeVarona of Fayetteville, N.C.,
adding that the overall situation was calm.
It appeared to be business as usual on the streets of
North Korea's capital. Video by AP Television News
showed people milling about Kim II Sung square and
rehearsing a performance for the 80th anniversary of
the "Down with Imperialism Union."
Kim Yong Nam, second to North Korean leader Kim Jong
Il, told Japan's Kyodo News agency that further
nuclear testing would hinge on U.S. policy toward the
"The issue of future nuclear tests is linked to U.S.
policy toward our country," Kim was quoted as saying
when asked whether Pyongyang will conduct more nuclear
"If the United States continues to take a hostile
attitude and apply pressure on us in various forms, we
will have no choice but to take physical steps to deal
with that," Kyodo quoted him as saying.
South Korea's defense minister said that Seoul could
enlarge its conventional arsenal to deal with a
potentially nuclear-armed North Korea.
"If North Korea really has the (nuclear) capabilities,
we will improve and enlarge the number of conventional
weapons as long as it doesn't violate the principle of
denuclearization," Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung
"We will supplement (our ability) to conduct precision
strikes against storage facilities and intercept
delivery means, while also improving the system of
having military units and individuals defend
themselves," he said.
Scientists and other governments have said Monday's
underground test has yet to be confirmed, with some
experts saying the blast was significantly smaller
than even the first nuclear bombs dropped on Japan
during World War II.
North Korea appeared to respond to that Wednesday,
saying in its statement that it "successfully
conducted an underground nuclear test under secure
In rare direct criticism of the communist regime from
Seoul, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said that
the security threat cited by North Korea is
exaggerated or nonexistent.
"North Korea says the reason it is pursuing nuclear
(weapons) is for its security, but the security threat
North Korea speaks of either does not exist in
reality, or is very exaggerated," Roh said, according
to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
He spoke even as South Korea's military was checking
its readiness for nuclear attack, Yonhap said. The
Joint Chiefs of Staff told Defense Minister Yoon
Kwang-ung that the military needed an improved ability
to respond to such an attack, including
state-of-the-art weapons capable of destroying a
nuclear missile, the report said.
Rice said President Bush has told the North Koreans
that "there is no intention to invade or attack them.
So they have that guarantee. ... I don't know what
more they want."
Rice told CNN Tuesday that Bush "never takes any of
his options off the table. But is the United States,
somehow, in a provocative way, trying to invade North
Korea? It's just not the case."
The top U.S. general in South Korea said that American
forces are fully capable of deterring an attack from
the North despite the communist nation's claim of a
"Be assured that the alliance has the forces necessary
to deter aggression, and should deterrence fail,
decisively defeat any North Korean attack against"
South Korea, U.S. Army Gen. B.B. Bell said in a
statement to troops. "U.S. forces have been well
trained to confront nuclear, biological and chemical
About 29,500 U.S. troops are deployed in the South, a
remnant of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a
cease-fire that has never been replaced by a peace
Bell said the seismic waves detected after the claimed
test were still being analyzed and that it had not
been yet determined if they indicated a successful
A media report that North Korea may have conducted a
second nuclear test rattled nerves Wednesday, but the
Japanese government said there was no indication that
a test had taken place.
NHK reported around 8:30 a.m. that unidentified
government sources were saying that "tremors" had been
detected in North Korea.
South Korean and U.S. seismic monitoring stations said
that they hadn't detected any activity indicating a
second test, and White House spokesman Blair Jones
said the United States had detected no evidence of
additional North Korean testing.
At the United Nations, China agreed to punishment of
North Korea but not severe sanctions backed by the
U.S., which it said would be too crushing for its
impoverished communist ally.
Beijing is seen as having the greatest outside
leverage on North Korea as a traditional ally and top
provider of badly needed economic and energy aid.
The United States asked the
U.N. Security Council to impose a partial trade
embargo including strict limits on Korea's weapons
exports and freezing of related financial assets.
All imports would be inspected too, to filter
materials that could be made into nuclear, chemical or
Pyongyang has demanded one-on-one talks with
Washington and has threatened to launch a
nuclear-tipped missile if the U.S. doesn't comply.
Washington insists on the so-called six-party format,
where Russia, China, South Korea and Japan have joined
the United States in talking to North Korea.