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N.Korean rockets on 'standby' after U.S.-S.Korea military drills

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:19 p.m. HST, Mar 28, 2013

SEOUL >> North Korea's leader says his rocket forces are ready "to settle accounts with the U.S.," an escalation of the country's bellicose rhetoric and a direct response to the unprecedented announcement that U.S. nuclear-capable B-2 bombers had joined military drills with South Korea.

Kim Jong Un's comments in a meeting Friday (Thursday in Hawaii) with his senior generals are part of a rising tide of threats meant to highlight anger over the military drills and recent U.N. sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear test.

(According to the Yonhap news agency in Seoul, North Korea's government-controlled media reported that "(Kim) signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the Korean People's Army, ordering them to be on standby to fire so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland, its military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in south Korea.")

North Korea sees U.S. nuclear firepower as a direct threat to its existence and claims the annual military drills are a preparation for invasion. Pyongyang also uses the U.S. nuclear arsenal as a justification for its own push for nuclear-tipped missiles that can strike the United States — a goal that experts believe to be years away, despite a nuclear test last month and a long-range rocket launch in December.

A full-blown North Korean attack is unlikely, though there are fears of a more localized conflict, such as a naval skirmish in disputed Yellow Sea waters. Such naval clashes have happened three times since 1999. North Korea's threats are seen by outside analysts as efforts to provoke South Korea to soften its policies and to win direct talks with Washington that could result in aid. Kim's comments are also seen as ways to build domestic loyalty and strengthen his military credentials.

Kim met early Friday morning with his senior generals, state media reported, signed a rocket preparation plan and ordered his forces on standby to strike the U.S. mainland, South Korea, Guam and Hawaii. Many analysts say they've seen no evidence that Pyongyang's missiles can hit the U.S. mainland. But it has capable short- and mid-range missiles, and Seoul is only a short drive from the heavily armed border separating the Koreas.

U.S. Forces Korea said Thursday that the B-2 stealth bombers flew from a U.S. air base in Missouri and dropped dummy munitions on the South Korean island range before returning home. It was unclear whether America's stealth bombers were used in past annual drills with South Korea, but this is the first time the military has announced their use.

The statement follows an earlier U.S. announcement that nuclear-capable B-52 bombers participated in the joint military drills.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters that the decision to send B-2 bombers to join the military drills was part of normal exercises and not intended to provoke North Korea. Hagel acknowledged, however, that North Korea's belligerent tones and actions in recent weeks have ratcheted up the danger in the region, "and we have to understand that reality."

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. was making sure its defenses were "appropriate and strong" as North Korea continues to test and seeks to extend the reach of its weaponry.

Washington and Seoul say the military drills are routine and defensive.

North Korea has already threatened nuclear strikes on Washington and Seoul in recent weeks. It said Wednesday there was no need for communication in a situation "where a war may break out at any moment." Earlier this month, it announced that it considers void the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953.

But there were also signs that Pyongyang is willing to go only so far.

A North Korean industrial plant operated with South Korean know-how was running normally Thursday, despite the North's shutdown a day earlier of communication lines ordinarily used to move workers and goods across the border. At least for the moment, Pyongyang was choosing the factory's infusion of hard currency over yet another provocation.

Pyongyang would have gone beyond words, possibly damaging its own weak finances, if it had blocked South Koreans from getting in and out of the Kaesong industrial plant, which produced $470 million worth of goods last year. South Korean managers at the plant reported no signs of trouble Thursday.

The Kaesong plant, just across the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that separates the Koreas, normally relies on a military hotline for the governments to coordinate the movement of goods and South Korean workers.

Without the hotline, the governments, which lack diplomatic relations, used middlemen. North Korea verbally approved the crossing Thursday of hundreds of South Koreans by telling South Koreans at a management office at the Kaesong factory. Those South Koreans then called officials in South Korea.

Both governments prohibit direct contact with citizens on the other side, but Kaesong has separate telephone lines that allow South Korean managers there to communicate with people in South Korea.

Factory managers at Kaesong reached by The Associated Press by telephone at the factory said the overall mood there is normal.

"Tension rises almost every year when it's time for the U.S.-South Korean drills to take place, but as soon as those drills end, things quickly return to normal," Sung Hyun-sang said in Seoul, a day after returning from Kaesong. He is president of Mansun Corporation, an apparel manufacturer that employs 1,400 North Korean workers and regularly stations 12 South Koreans at Kaesong.

"I think and hope that this time won't be different," Sung said.

Technically, the divided Korean Peninsula remains in a state of war. North Korea last shut down communications at Kaesong four years ago, and that time some workers were temporarily stranded.

North Korea could be trying to stoke worries that the hotline shutdown could mean that a military provocation could come any time without notice.

South Korea urged the North to quickly restore the hotline, and the U.S. State Department said the shutdown was unconstructive.

Although North Korea has vowed nuclear strikes on the U.S., analysts outside the country have seen no proof that North Korean scientists have yet mastered the technology needed to build a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on a missile.


AP writers Hyung-jin Kim and Sam Kim contributed to this report.

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loquaciousone wrote:
Little boys with dangerous toys can make a lot of noise.
on March 28,2013 | 06:59AM
localguy wrote:
A trip to the woodshed is long overdue.
on March 28,2013 | 07:12AM
808warriorfan wrote:
HEY KIM CHEE III.....wanna come out and play w/ THE BIG BOYS ?????
on March 28,2013 | 07:31AM
hanalei395 wrote:
The S. Koreans wouldn't stand a chance fighting the N. Koreans, if the Big Boys weren't on their side.
on March 28,2013 | 08:25AM
IAmSane wrote:
South Korea has one of the largest militarizes (globalfirepower.com) in the world. It's also very modern, compared to the 70s & 80s military technologies of the North Koreans. So, no, NK doesn't have a change against SK. Here's an article by CSM regarding the question: csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2012/0104/North-Korea-military-has-an-edge-over-South-but-wouldn-t-win-a-war-study-finds.

tl;dr SТFU if you don't know what you're talking about.
on March 28,2013 | 04:38PM
hanalei395 wrote:
The U.S. is STILL in S. Korea BECAUSE, the S. Koreans KNOWS, without the U.S. being there ..... they're DOOMED.
on March 28,2013 | 06:49PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
If we weren't there they'd all be speaking Chinese by now.
on March 28,2013 | 09:52PM
808warriorfan wrote:
I agree w/ your comments. I've always said if I were in a UN backed war, I'd like the Israelis on one flank and the South Koreans on the other flank. Don't mess w/ the SK military; they are BAD !!!!! Also the North would have a very difficult time supplying their ground forces w/ basic necessities such as food, water, medical supplies, ammunition, etc.
on March 28,2013 | 10:16PM
sailfish1 wrote:
That should remind North Korea about the U.S. carpet bombing them during the Korean War and killing millions of their civilians (including the elderly, women, and children). And, Americans wonder why the North Koreans hate the U.S.
on March 28,2013 | 07:38AM
pcman wrote:
IRT sailfish on North Korea. B-52's were not used in the Korean War, Carpet bombing was used in the Vietnam War. The North Koreans hate the US because the US whipped their butts after they misjudged the US resolve to defend South Korea after seeing the US downsize its military after WW II. Misjudging our resolve will happen again as our adversaries watch President Obama cut back on our defense establishment. Actually, this has happened once already in Benghazi, Libya where terrorists killed 4 US citizens, including a consulate. This is something that had not happened since 1970's when President Carter cut back on our military strength.
on March 28,2013 | 08:40AM
hanalei395 wrote:
There WERE carpet-bombings in N. Korea, 1950-to-1953, by B-29's. Millions were killed.
on March 28,2013 | 09:16AM
hanalei395 wrote:
U.S. ground troops in N. Korea... never again. That's why there were no ground troops in N. Vietnam.
on March 28,2013 | 09:39AM
serious wrote:
Let's get this straight. B-29's did a great job, they had to fly at night because the MIGs were too good but didn't have radar for interception. I flew B-36's in those days, they were not --not sure what the word would be--prepared for Korea. My feeling is that the airplane for a cold war offense and didn't want to be confronted with a offense that they didn't know how they could come out. B-52's were just coming off the assembly line. Amazing that we still have them!!
on March 28,2013 | 01:53PM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
I would love to see a Peacemaker in person!
on March 28,2013 | 06:16PM
tiki886 wrote:
Why? This works just as well.

http://photobucket.com/images/Colt Peacemaker/?page=1

on March 29,2013 | 01:35AM
localguy wrote:
sailfish1 - Nice try but how about mentioning who started the Korean War? Can you say "North Korea?" I thought you could. Once you start a war you assume all liabilities for the devastation war brings to your country. Don't blame the USA, we had nothing to do with starting the war. Oh, as for "carpet bombing" one popular term was "Rototilling" the earth. Be afraid Kimmy Boy, be very afraid of a stealth cruise missile taking you out at night. You will never know it is coming. Remember well the nose camera videos seen during the recent wars as the missile heads to its target, taking it out.
on March 28,2013 | 07:26PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Going after Kimmy Boy...and the Korean war continues... right into S. Korea. And the S. Koreans, with their Hyundai, Kia, Samsung, etc., etc..... don't want that. (Kimmy Boy...not afraid).
on March 28,2013 | 08:29PM
Kaleo744 wrote:
Yep its called Politics..;"Mine is bigger then yours" or I have better toys then you have...which leads to the last days of this sorry earth of ours...
on March 28,2013 | 07:49AM
kennysmith wrote:
to loquaciousone look at this he will see us with bigger toy. and don't try to show what he could do. we can do better them hem.
on March 28,2013 | 08:06AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
If these guys keep cutting ties pretty soon they will have to wear turtlenecks.
on March 28,2013 | 08:40AM
lowtone123 wrote:
The side with the biggest and baddest toys WINS!
on March 28,2013 | 10:55AM
loquaciousone wrote:
The only difference between men and boys are the size of their toys.
on March 28,2013 | 01:30PM
Ripoff wrote:
lets all meet up at L&L and race to find who can eat more kalbi and chicken katsu. loser has to buy lunch and run naked in their respective countries for 3 days
on March 28,2013 | 12:46PM
ehowzit wrote:
on March 28,2013 | 01:20PM
paradiddle wrote:
Too one sided for obvious reasons. How about we have an eating contest. Both must sit down with an abundance and equal amounts of Kim Chee AND Fried Chicken. Whomever eats the most in 15 minutes is declared the winner. Yeah...I know this is silly but so is all the back and forth BS that's being forced upon us by everyone and from every direction. Sheesh....whomever is driving this bus, please stop and let me off now.
on March 28,2013 | 02:24PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Fried Chicken? I think it's better you get off the bus before you put your foot in your mouth again. Fuzzy Zoeller once made a joke about Tiger Woods like that and guess who got fried?
on March 28,2013 | 03:16PM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
Political correctness aside...yum!
on March 28,2013 | 06:24PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 28,2013 | 03:40PM
IAmSane wrote:
Why do you hate Manoa of all places...?
on March 28,2013 | 04:43PM
808warriorfan wrote:
Let's aim at your house !!!!! LEAVE MANOA ALONE.....GOD'S COUNTRY .............
on March 28,2013 | 10:18PM
tiki886 wrote:
The greatest concentration of Commies are in Manoa. That would be a mistake for the Kimster to blow them up.
on March 29,2013 | 01:38AM
burymeagain wrote:
Damn that Rodman!
on March 28,2013 | 03:52PM
false wrote:
I don't think that Kim Jung Un really knows what a B-52 carries.
on March 28,2013 | 03:54PM
808warriorfan wrote:
on March 28,2013 | 10:18PM
tiki886 wrote:
All he knows is that it looks like a beehive and the hair spray makes it indestructible.
on March 29,2013 | 01:40AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
No man, the danger is the NK starts to believe their own propaganda then some shooting starts and who know what happens next. These guys have enough artillery to put a hurt on Seoul and some crude nukes to do who knows what with. This is just not a good situation.
on March 28,2013 | 03:55PM
jussayin wrote:
Good comment. US shouldn't be so arrogant unless we don't care about South Korea and Japan. Seoul is super close to NK. US sending the bombers doesn't help relationships. It sounds like the big bully is trying to push the small bully around. Not a good way to have peace.
on March 28,2013 | 04:23PM
false wrote:
Hawaii won't do well if this goes off.
on March 28,2013 | 05:24PM
Kapua91 wrote:
I agree, we should take this nut seriously, he's cray cray, and I do not want to be collateral damage.
on March 28,2013 | 07:55PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
I agree... only a nut case would threaten the US with a nuclear strike. if a republican were in the white house, the military would probably be bombing NK right now.
on March 28,2013 | 09:59PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
The larger worry is they will sell nukes to crazy muslims that would seek to sneak it into America and attack us from within again. That's what I worry about.
on March 28,2013 | 10:03PM
localguy wrote:
All this means is they brought the matchbooks out to the rockets to make it easier to light the fuze. Nothing to worry about.
on March 28,2013 | 07:21PM
stogie002 wrote:
Two words for the fat man....BRING IT!
on March 28,2013 | 10:26PM
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