North Korea has finalized its preparations for war as it responded with a warning of “catastrophic consequences” to any further provocations by the US following the US Navy strike group positioning on the North Korean peninsula.
The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier was diverted to western Pacific from its visit to Australia after tensions mounted over military drills involving American and South Korean forces, something which Pyongyang has interpreted as preparation for invasion.
“We will hold the US wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions,” North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman said. “(North Korea) is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US.”
The guardian reports: The spokesman cited Washington’s refusal to rule out a pre-emptive strike against North Korean missile sites as justification for its nuclear program.
“The prevailing grave situation proves once again that (North Korea) was entirely just when it increased in every way its military capabilities for self-defense and pre-emptive attack with a nuclear force as a pivot,” the spokesman said, according to KCNA.
“We will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by the powerful force of arms.”
Last week’s US strike against a Syrian base is also being seen as a warning to North Korea after Donald Trump said Washington was prepared to act alone if China failed to exert more pressure on its neighbor to halt its missile and nuclear weapons programs.
North Korea again defied UN resolutions banning it from developing ballistic missile technology with another test-launch on the eve of Trump’s summit with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, in Florida last week.
White House officials have signaled that all options – including pre-emptive strikes – remain on the table in addressing North Korea’s steady advance towards developing long-range missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as the US mainland.
The nuclear-powered Carl Vinson’s presence in the area coincides with speculation that North Korea could be preparing to conduct its sixth nuclear test to coincide with key dates in the country’s history, including the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung, on Saturday.
China’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, has played down reports that Beijing has deployed 150,000 troops to its border with North Korea.
Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokesperson, told reporters she was “not aware” of such a mobilization by the People’s Liberation Army along the 880-mile border. In the past, similar reports had been proven “groundless and false,” Hua claimed.
However, with regional tensions building ahead of Saturday’s Kim Il-sung commemorations, Hua said China was “closely following” developments on the Korean peninsula.
“We believe that, given the current situation, all relevant parties should exercise restraint and avoid activities that may escalate the tension.”