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N. Korea envoy warns S. Korea of 'final destruction'
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) Feb 19, 2013


S. Korea flexes muscles with naval exercise
Seoul (AFP) Feb 19, 2013 - South Korea staged a naval exercise involving US surveillance aircraft on Tuesday, flexing its military muscles at a time of high tensions on the Korean Peninsula following the North's third nuclear test.

Day one of a six-day drill in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) involved South Korean warships and submarines, as well as surveillance planes from the United States, the defence ministry in Seoul said.

The exercises will practise operations to detect and track North Korean missiles and submarines, the ministry added.

"The drill is aimed at testing our readiness against threats from the enemy," a spokesman told AFP.

It is the latest in a series of military exercises, which have been staged alone by South Korea or jointly with the United States since the North launched a long-range rocket on December 12.

Earlier this month Seoul and Washington conducted a joint naval exercise with a US nuclear submarine off South Korea's east coast, followed by a joint airforce drill.

Pyongyang insists the December launch put a satellite into orbit for peaceful research, but critics said it amounted to a banned ballistic missile test that marked a major advance for the communist state's nuclear weapons programme.

Following the North's nuclear test on February 12, the South vowed to accelerate the development of longer-range ballistic missiles and new cruise missiles capable of a precision strike on members of Pyongyang's high command.

North Korea said the test -- widely condemned by the international community -- was a direct response to UN sanctions imposed on Pyongyang after last year's rocket launch.

Pyongyang is already under international sanctions for conducting two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, which both came after long-range rocket launches.

South Korea's outgoing President Lee Myung-Bak said Pyongyang was drawing closer to "a dead-end" by inviting isolation and sanctions from the international community.

"Though North Korea is congratulating itself on the success of the test, neither nuclear power nor missiles will protect them," he said in a farewell speech Tuesday.

Lee will leave office next week.

South Korea faces "final destruction" if Seoul and its allies continue to push for tougher UN resolutions against North Korea's nuclear programme, Pyongyang warned Tuesday.

"We have never recognised the propagandist resolutions on sanctions by the UN Security Council," North Korean envoy Jon Yong Ryong told a session of the UN Conference on Disarmament.

"As the saying goes, 'a newborn puppy knows no fear of a tiger.' South Korea's erratic behaviour could only herald its final destruction," he insisted.

North and South Korea traditionally trade barbs at the UN forum -- which meets regularly in Geneva and focusses on a raft of global arms-control issues.

But in the wake of North Korea's latest nuclear test last week and a global outpouring of condemnation, the rhetoric was unusually high-pitched Tuesday.

South Korea's ambassador, Kwon Haeryong, hit back.

He said that Pyongyang's secretive regime would do better to ensure a better life for its people, in a country which has suffered intermittent famines in the past two decades.

"Everybody knows that North Korea is committing enormous resources to developing nuclear weapons and a missile capability. But it is very regrettable that a chronic food shortage persists and continually threatens people," Kwon said.

"Those Korean people are in a dire situation because of the bad allocation of their resources. The North Korean regime has continued to ask for humanitarian assistance from the international community. Considering this, we urge North Korea to focus on improving the living conditions for its entire people," he said.

Last week's test was North Korea's most powerful to date, with Pyongyang claiming a breakthrough with a "miniaturised" device.

North Korea's secretive regime repeatedly has rejected international calls to halt its nuclear programme, belittling international sanctions.

Jon also slammed the United States, blaming the superpower for the current stand-off with his country -- known officially as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK.

"The DPRK nuclear test is just a measure for self-defence, to cope with intensified US nuclear blackmail against it," he said.

"It is the disposition and firm will of the army and people of the DPRK to counter a high-handed policy with the toughest policy and react to pressure and sanctions with an all-out counter action," he added.

"The DPRK does not make any empty talk. It will take the toughest measure against foreign aggressors and violation of sovereignty in the future," he insisted.

The US ambassador, Laura Kennedy, said North Korea's remarks would be "offensive and unacceptable" in any setting, let alone at a conference dedicated to disarmament.

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NUKEWARS
How do you solve a problem like North Korea?
Seoul (AFP) Feb 17, 2013
The UN Security Council has been here before... several times: debating how to punish North Korea for - as Pyongyang would have it - reacting to the last time it got punished. North Korea flagged its February 12 nuclear test three weeks in advance in an official statement released by the National Defence Commission, the country's top military body. But the countdown really began two mo ... read more


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