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N. Korea warns military cleared to wage nuclear attack on U.S.

By Jean H. Lee

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:31 p.m. HST, Apr 03, 2013

PAJU, South Koea » North Korea warned that its military has been cleared to attack the U.S. using "smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear" weapons, while the U.S. said it was strengthening protection in the region and seeking to defuse the situation.

Despite the intense rhetoric, analysts do not expect a nuclear attack by North Korea, which knows the move could trigger a destructive, suicidal war that no one in the region wants. It's not believed to have the ability to launch nuclear-tipped missiles, but its other nuclear capabilities aren't fully known.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Washington was doing all it can to defuse the situation. The Pentagon also will deploy a missile defense system to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam to strengthen regional protection against a possible attack.

The strident warning from Pyongyang is the latest escalating threats from North Korea, which has railed against joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises taking place in South Korea and has expressed anger over tightened sanctions for its February nuclear test.

Acting on one of its threats, North Korean border authorities have refused to allow entry to South Koreans who manage jointly run factories in the North Korean city of Kaesong. Trucks carrying cargo and South Korean workers were turned back Wednesday and again Thursday morning.

This spring's annual U.S.-South Korea drills have incorporated fighter jets and nuclear-capable stealth bombers, though the allies insist they are routine exercises. Pyongyang calls them rehearsals for a northward invasion.

The foes fought on opposite sides of the three-year Korean War, which ended in a truce in 1953. The divided Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war six decades later, and Washington keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect its ally.

Hagel said Washington was doing all it can to defuse the situation, echoing comments a day earlier by Secretary of State John Kerry.

"Some of the actions they've taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger and threat to the interests, certainly of our allies, starting with South Korea and Japan and also the threats that the North Koreans have leveled directly at the United States regarding our base in Guam, threatened Hawaii, threatened the West Coast of the United States," Hagel said Wednesday.

In Pyongyang, the military statement said North Korean troops had been authorized to counter U.S. "aggression" with "powerful practical military counteractions," including nuclear weapons.

"We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means," an unnamed spokesman from the General Bureau of the Korean People's Army said in a statement carried by state media, referring to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "The U.S. had better ponder over the prevailing grave situation."

However, North Korea's nuclear strike capabilities remain unclear.

Pyongyang is believed to be working toward building an atomic bomb small enough to mount on a long-range missile. Long-range rocket launches designed to send satellites into space in 2009 and 2012 were widely considered covert tests of missile technology, and North Korea has conducted three underground nuclear tests, most recently in February.

"I don't believe North Korea has to capacity to attack the United States with nuclear weapons mounted on missiles, and won't for many years. Its ability to target and strike South Korea is also very limited," nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker, a senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, said this week.

"And even if Pyongyang had the technical means, why would the regime want to launch a nuclear attack when it fully knows that any use of nuclear weapons would result in a devastating military response and would spell the end of the regime? " he said in answers posted to CISAC's website.

In Seoul, a senior government official said Tuesday that it wasn't clear how advanced North Korea's nuclear weapons capabilities are. But he also noted fallout from any nuclear strike on Seoul or beyond would threaten Pyongyang as well, making a strike unlikely. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly to the media.

North Korea maintains that it needs to build nuclear weapons to defend itself against the United States. On Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un led a high-level meeting of party officials who declared building the economy and "nuclear armed forces" as the nation's two top priorities.

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gsc wrote:
Nuke'um !
on April 3,2013 | 12:35PM
1local wrote:
nuff talk - send in the predators and take him out - cut the head off the serpent.
on April 3,2013 | 01:00PM
pcman wrote:
IRT 1local, unfortunately NK has surface to air missiles that would easily shoot down the predators or any other remotely piloted aircraft in our cureent inventory. A high speed and/or stealth RPA could do the job, though, but President Obama doesn't want them.
on April 3,2013 | 03:18PM
hanalei395 wrote:
That's what N. Korea wants, for the U.S. to make the first strike. This gives them the excuse to invade S. Korea. The S. Koreans, with their Hyundai, Kia, Samsung, etc. etc., DON'T want a war.
on April 3,2013 | 03:53PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
on April 3,2013 | 07:49PM
hanalei395 wrote:
The "nuke 'em" is back. The last time when it was the thing to say, was when the Vietnamese kicked the U.S. out of their country.
on April 3,2013 | 04:03PM
loquaciousone wrote:
His granddad Kim Il Sung was known as the Great Leader. His dad Kim Jong Il was named as the Dear Leader. Kim Jong Un will be known as the Dumb Bleeder.
on April 3,2013 | 12:35PM
pcman wrote:
IRT, not just yet. But, we can use conventional weapons to take out all NK nuclear support facilities, personnel and equipment in the middle of the night and no one would know what hit them.
on April 3,2013 | 01:13PM
stingray65 wrote:
PCMAN: What North Korean does not know, could hurt them Real Bad!! You were not born in July 20, 1945. One big one that was dropped in Hiroshima, do you ever know or heard, how many casualties? Instantly more for less 20,000.
on April 3,2013 | 03:41PM
pcman wrote:
IRT stingray, that's why I say use conventional weapons on military targets only. The effects of conventional weapons are blast and heat, but no radiation that was ugly at Hiroshima. Use of nukes in Korea is also bad because the radioactivity could get into the air to Japan and even the US.
on April 3,2013 | 06:06PM
kimpira wrote:
Doesn't he look like a kid playing GI Joe. What a joke.
on April 3,2013 | 01:28PM
Denominator wrote:
It would be a real shame if their nuclear weapon blew up in their faces before it was launched. It would be due to a technical malfunction of course.
on April 3,2013 | 12:55PM
bumba wrote:
If they threaten us, we should kill them. Wipe them OUT.
on April 3,2013 | 12:59PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Lots of posturing by computer geeks and retirees typing on their keypads. Nuke um,atomic bombs,dark of night? Get real we do not kill helpless poor people because the upper 1% of their country is nuts. Cmon we are Thee United States of America not Nazi or Communist.
on April 3,2013 | 07:56PM
retire wrote:
They will be directing the missle's paths to Hawaii from a hostess bar on Kapiolani Blvd. run by "sples".
on April 3,2013 | 01:01PM
SteveToo wrote:
retire that's FUNNY to the 10 degree. LOL
on April 3,2013 | 01:09PM
allie wrote:
on April 3,2013 | 01:33PM
loquaciousone wrote:
This situation has become so serious that his buddy for life Dennis the Menace has consented to giving the Dear Bleeder one of his nose rings.
on April 3,2013 | 01:01PM
PokeStop wrote:
U.S. needs to nuke N. Korea and turn this country into burnt KALBI. Wipe this swine Kim Un whatever off this planet.
on April 3,2013 | 01:12PM
dlum003 wrote:
War is inevitable. I'm really terrified for my young kids, ... especially if I'm not around anymore. I for one, am not taking them lightly.
on April 3,2013 | 01:17PM
HAJAA1 wrote:
You're right dlum003. And what our leaders need to remember is that if NK evens farts in Hawaii, it could send the US into another economic tumble. Thus, I am not taking these psychos lightly either.
on April 3,2013 | 01:45PM
stingray65 wrote:
HAJAA, No, it is good for our economy. Everyone has a job! Maybe?
on April 3,2013 | 03:45PM
HAJAA1 wrote:
Yeah....another monster like TSA? Oh my.
on April 4,2013 | 12:43AM
Fred01 wrote:
I wish they would just do it already so we can end this once and for all.
on April 3,2013 | 01:24PM
markat wrote:
Agreed. In a slightly twisted way, I wish N Korea would do something already, just to give us a reason to obliterate them.
on April 3,2013 | 01:52PM
808warriorfan wrote:
on April 3,2013 | 06:40PM
pakeheat wrote:
Go ahead Kim Jung Un, make America day, LOL.
on April 3,2013 | 01:48PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
From the looks of the comments on this page - North Korea's propaganda program is working. Now they have the American people banging the war drums just as loud as they are and more so giving NK the attention they crave. The funny thing is North Korea's rhetoric is just that, rhetoric. Everyone knows they can't do what they say they can do. But instead of treating them like the gnats they are, we elevate them to giant status, as if they would pose a real threat to us or South Korea, and our people get all hot and bothered about NK and to start saying things like turning an entire country into "burnt kal bi". advocating that the US initiatie hostilities to take out NK's leadership, and other nonsense like that. Let's agree that 80 to 90 percent of the population of NK is just a bunch of peasants and working stiffs who were unlucky enough to be born in a hermit kingdom and who would bear the brunt of any widespread hostilities and there is no real way that we can take out enough of their leadership to change the county, some military leader will emerge and then the possibility of a mushroom cloud over a US or South Korean city become more likely, not less. No, let's just put them on ignore, and instead quietly go about our business of keeping our military readiness at an appropriate level, growing our economy and the economy of our allies like South Korea, and keeping the sanctions in place to squeeze NK until it implodes on its own.
on April 3,2013 | 02:01PM
pcman wrote:
IRT CheeseBall, IMHO you can't let a bully have his way. Once you do, he'll take advantage over the weak ones around him although he may not affect you. Kim Jong Un isactually bullying South Korea and Japan to try to get them to provide North Korea with free food, economic aid and medical provisions for its poor, starving populace. It has worked on Carter, Clinton and Bush when they were Presidents. With aid from US, Japan and South Korea, the aid provided to the North would be used to feed the military and elitist, and not the poor. Now they are working on Obama. Why have we allowed that to happen?. Because people like you in our governmentsof US, South Korea and Japan want to give them a "pass." How often do you want them to get away with that tactic?
on April 3,2013 | 03:33PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
You miss my point. I said hit the ignore button. The policy of constructive engagement has failed. End of story. Do you really think that NK has the ability to bully anyone? do you really think that after the well publicized kidnapping of Japanese nationals by NK that any Japanese government would support constructive engagement? Do you really think that after shelling and island and sinking a warship that South Korea will continue constructive engagement? That's why NK is doing all this stuff, no one is listening anymore. As for Obama - he allowed the B-2 fly overs deployed missile defense and warships, doesn't it sound like he is doing his fare share of saber rattling too? No one is giving him a free pass you fool, the sanctions are choking off his country and the Chinese are the only ones keeping him afloat. There has bee no new aid programs by the US, Japan, and China and NK has complete missed the boat, their actions have further isolated them. BTW, most of the aid being delivered to NK is by NGO's not governments. Yes a lot of it goes to the military, but at least its not our government or allies that are doing it.
on April 3,2013 | 03:58PM
pcman wrote:
IRT CheeseBall, Hit the ignore button to me meant let them carry on as they wish. Look at the history of aid to North Korea, from South Korea, Japan and the US. NGO aid has to be approved by our State Dept if it goes through the UN, Red Cross, etc. All aid has links. Japan did nothing to retaliate against NK kidnapping because those people were Koreans who were kidnapped. SK did nothing to counter the NK submarine attack on the SK navy boat, which caused the Pres to get booted out, hence the new Pres Park. She is not going be so passive. Mark my words. You can call me a fool but I have been on this problem for over 45 years, including 40 years in the Pacific and Asia. The 5 years not in the Paccific and Asia, I spent in defense schools in the mainland.
on April 3,2013 | 06:22PM
pcman wrote:
IRT Cheeseball, why don't you just Google "US Aid to North Korea," South Korean Aid to NK," and Japan aid to NK." Would save me a lot of time to explain.
on April 3,2013 | 06:42PM
Changalang wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on April 3,2013 | 09:57PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I wouldn't mind if it was equal shows of force. Thing is, he spends a nickel on propaganda and old video and we spend $500 million in response. We should clearly lay out what happens if he goes rogue and then walk away and ignore him. We're getting played like a second hand fiddle.
on April 4,2013 | 08:25AM
paintslinger wrote:
This is the value of a World Government or coalition....when a recalcitrant and irresponsible regime like that threatening the peace of the world should simply be removed by force...by a world security force. The real meaning of collective security is if one nation rises against another, all the nations of the world rise and destroy that government.
on April 3,2013 | 02:19PM
SteveToo wrote:
As long as America is strong I don't want no mad World Security Force. That idea is scary.
on April 3,2013 | 06:07PM
twitter6 wrote:
Little punk
on April 3,2013 | 02:28PM
Changalang wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on April 3,2013 | 07:05PM
pcman wrote:
IRT Chanagalang, I don't think China is the same today as it was under Chmn Mao. His ties with Kim Il Sung were a lifelong bond that doesn't exist today between leaders of China and Young Kim. China has too much to lose from US, SK, and Japan investments, ie, business, industrial and commercial. In fact, China has deferred from backing NK nucler programs at the UN which is a change from the past.
on April 3,2013 | 08:44PM
Changalang wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on April 3,2013 | 09:05PM
tiki886 wrote:
Ha, ha, ha...you ignorant bas tard. If China defends Nk, they lose over a TRILLION dollars that America doesn't have to pay back.
on April 3,2013 | 10:34PM
tiki886 wrote:
That is assuming some other country will buy our debt from China. Who would want to do that? Greece? You are a stoopid fool!
on April 3,2013 | 11:26PM
tiki886 wrote:
If China needed a TRILLION DOLLARS or more to spend on their own military, they wouldn't give the US the money for pennies in return. You are a STOOPID FOOL!!!!
on April 3,2013 | 11:47PM
DanLBoom wrote:
They always do this to the U.S . North Korea are professional Liers their good at this . And the U.S always gaves-in.OMG We're the dumbies ! Making us look like fools,by sending in stealth bombers,fighters and destroyers. What else?? drones? Really And Now..."Here he come to save the Daaay". Good ole Chuck Hagel to the recue TA! TA! (I have a hard time just watching him on tv or even taking him seriously)..Maybe overreacting a little??? And not to mention..wasting millions...Amature hour Kim Jong Un ....is laughing right about now. Got you again! Ha Ha Ha Imua
on April 3,2013 | 04:20PM
kamoae wrote:
Never underestimate North Korea! No one knows what is in the mind of a crazed lunatic of a leader such as kim jong-un. Best to be prepared in case they decide to follow through with their rhetoric. Do you expect the U.S. to sit back, watch and not prepare? It would be foolish to do that since we don't really know their nuclear capabilities and with the hot head and immature, adolescent brain of their leader, in anger, send a missile our way. I don't see it as wasted money. I see it as PROTECTION!
on April 3,2013 | 05:57PM
zhawaii wrote:
I hope our ports security is being taken seriously. That's the way they would attack. Sneak weapons in.
on April 3,2013 | 04:28PM
hon2255 wrote:
send out assasination squad , clandestine operation ,shoot to kill.
on April 3,2013 | 04:42PM
hanalei395 wrote:
The CIA tried to put the hit Fidel Castro. But, after the Kennedy brothers...and Karma...the CIA no longer does that.
on April 3,2013 | 06:00PM
Changalang wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on April 3,2013 | 06:30PM
hanalei395 wrote:
I'm talking about HEADS of STATE. WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND. Osama was NOT a Head of State. The CIA found out the hard way, after the Kennedy brothers.
on April 3,2013 | 07:22PM
Changalang wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on April 3,2013 | 07:29PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Since you don't know, I'll keep you in suspense, and keep you down on your level and keep you thinking it was Bambi.
on April 3,2013 | 08:04PM
hanalei395 wrote:
The "LOL" is really a "heh, heh". (The poor thing is still in suspense).
on April 3,2013 | 08:44PM
hanalei395 wrote:
More like giving up.
on April 3,2013 | 09:06PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Just go with your "LOL".
on April 3,2013 | 10:04PM
808warriorfan wrote:
on April 3,2013 | 09:24PM
tiki886 wrote:
That is assuming some other country will buy our debt from China. Who would want to do that? Greece? You are a stoopid fool!
on April 3,2013 | 11:14PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
The Russian investors in the Bank of Cyprus have expressed an interest in taking on a bit more risk. We might try to sell some to them.
on April 4,2013 | 08:28AM
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