North Korea is at it again, issuing a statement today claiming its missile and artillery units are now on “the highest alert” and prepared to strike South Korea, the U.S. mainland and Hawaii and Guam.
It seems that almost weekly now that the regime of North Korean President Kim Jong-un sends out a barrage of apocalyptic threats against the U.S. and South Korea for provocations real and imagined.
This time the North claimed the incitement was a U.S. B-52 bomber that flew over South Korea as part of regularly scheduled drills conducted this month.
North Korea said in a statement through its Korean Central News Agency that its strategic rocket and long-range artillery units “are assigned to strike bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops in the U.S. mainland and on Hawaii and Guam and other operational zones in the Pacific, as well as all the enemy targets in South Korea and its vicinity.”
“They should be mindful that everything will be reduced to ashes and flames the moment the first attack is unleashed,” the North Korean command said in the statement.
This threat came just hours after South Korean President Park Geun-hye warned the North Korean leaders that they risk their very survival if they don’t abandon the nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, provocations and threats.
“I strongly urge North Korea to change,” Park said in a nationally televised speech marking the anniversary of the deaths of 46 sailors, who were killed in 2010 when a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean navy corvette. “North Korea must immediately abandon its thought that nuclear weapons will protect its regime.”
This latest volley of threats comes after the U.N. Security Council imposed more sanctions on North Korea, after it launched a three-stage rocket in December and third nuclear test last month.
Last week Kim Jong-un visited his country’s military units and inspected live-fire artillery and amphibious landing exercises. He ordered his soldiers to send the enemies “to the bottom of the sea as they run wild like wolves threatened with fire,” according to North Korean media.
Analysts called on China to rein in the increasingly aggressive and reckless actions of its ally.
China “could be more tough on North Korea, as they are more irresponsible in their rhetoric and that will hurt China’s interests,” Shen Dingli, an international relations expert and North Korea watcher at Shanghai’s Fudan University, told USA Today. “We have to teach North Korea a lesson, but not to further the trend of instability spiraling. We need to punish them, without exciting them.”
The U.S. diplomats need to push Chinese diplomats by telling them, “your ally North Korea is acting in a very belligerent and destabilizing way,” said Richard Bush, an East Asia specialist at the National Intelligence Council under former President Bill Clinton. Bush now heads the Brookings Institution Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies. “They’re acting in ways that are contrary to the principals you (China) have laid out. The situation is somewhat dangerous. You need to restrain your ally.”
James Hardy, Asia Pacific editor for Jane’s Defense Weekly, told USA Today that the U.S. doesn’t have to worry about an attack from North Korea because it doesn’t have the long-range missile capability to strike U.S. bases in Hawaii, Guam or the mainland.
“From what we know of its existing inventory, North Korea has short- and medium-range missiles that could complicate a situation on the Korean Peninsula and perhaps reach Japan,” he said.
What many analysts and South Koreans fear is that the North might try to attack South Korea to raise tensions, forcing Washington and Seoul to return to the negotiating table with concessions.
North Korea can also cause damage with a unit of hackers trained for cyber-warfare. Three Internet sites run by North Korean defectors and anti-Pyongyang activists today reported hacking attacks that disrupted or paralyzed their operations. The attacks come just a week after synchronized virus hits paralyzed the computer networks of three broadcasters and three banks in South Korea.
There were also temporary disruptions in Internet access for seven provincial governments in South Korea today, with officials suspecting North Korean involvement.