ST July 10, 2006
N. Korea threatens 'all-out war' as tension mounts
Seoul - NORTH Korean leader Kim Jong Il vowed no compromise and said he was prepared for 'all-out war', as tension mounted yesterday ahead of a United Nations vote on whether to impose sanctions on Pyongyang for its missile tests.
Japan, which has led the push to punish Pyongyang, warned yesterday that it would not rule out a pre-emptive strike on North Korea in case of a direct nuclear threat. 'It is impossible for us to do nothing until we are attacked by a country which says it has nuclear weapons and could fire missiles against Japan,' Foreign Minister Taro Aso said on public television.
That in turn prompted a swift rebuke from Seoul, which accused Tokyo of worsening the crisis, sparked off by the North's test-firing of seven missiles last Wednesday.
'There is nothing good in heightening tensions on the Korean peninsula...This will not help at all to settle the nuclear issue or the missile issue,' said a statement from President Roh Moo Hyun's spokesman.
The missile tests have provoked the strongest reaction in Japan. But the other major regional players, China and Russia, are against a UN draft resolution that would inflict more sanctions.
US envoy Christopher Hill yesterday urged the North Koreans to return to stalled talks on disarmament.
But Mr Kim, in his first reported remarks since the missile tests, pledged not to give up his country's weapons programmes.
'The General has declared that not even a tiny concession will be made to the imperialist US invaders, our arch enemy,' said a broadcast on North Korean state TV, referring to Mr Kim.
The North Korean leader, who never speaks himself in public, was also quoted as saying that if the US took 'revenge', it would mean 'all-out war'.
North Korea, which declared last year it had nuclear arms, walked out of six-party talks on ending its nuclear programme last November in protest against a set of US financial sanctions.
Its missile launch last week included the new Taepodong-2, believed to be capable of reaching Alaska or Hawaii but which quickly crashed into the Sea of Japan.
Technorati: North Korea.