N.Korea Keeps Up the Bellicose Rhetoric

      April 05, 2013 10:01

      North Korea on Thursday threatened to "smash the U.S." with its own "cutting-edge" nuclear devices that have been made "smaller, lighter and diversified."

      The statement from the North Korean Army's General Staff described recent joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises as a "nuclear war exercise targeting us."

      "The merciless operation of its revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified," it said. "We formally inform the White House and Pentagon" of this.

      The official KCNA news agency published the statement at 2 a.m. It was later repeated in other state media. Pyongyang is apparently incensed by reports saying Seoul and Washington do not believe it presents a major threat.

      The regime also continued to lambaste South Korea. KCNA said neither Cheong Wa Dae nor the U.S. nuclear umbrella can help fend off a "thunderbolt of revenge." The latest outburst came after South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told lawmakers on March 30, "If the North provokes, we'll counter it by mobilizing even the war capacities in the U.S. mainland."

      A government official in Seoul said North Korea is likely to keep up the rhetoric for some time as it has two anniversaries coming up -- nation founder Kim Il-sung's birthday on April 15 and the founding anniversary of the Army on April 25.

      But relative calm seems to prevail in the North, defectors and experts report. Lee Suk-young of Free North Korea Radio said, "According to sources in the North, the regime conducted two air raid drills on Feb. 10 and 28. Only about half of the tanks and other military vehicles are filled with gasoline even in frontline areas like Hwanghae and Kangwon provinces, while the rest stand idle under camouflage netting."

      Lee, a former political commissar in the North Korean Army who defected last year, said, "North Koreans regard a two-day air raid drill as a holiday. During the drill, nobody goes to work, but families and villagers set up tents and take shelter in the hills. The price of food or fruit normally goes up the day before the drill."

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