North says military to adopt combat posture

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North says military to adopt combat posture

The North Korean military ordered all its artillery units, including strategic rocket and long-range artillery units, to adopt “combat readiness posture No. 1,” to strike the continental U.S., its overseas bases and South Korea, in retaliation against an American nuclear bomber sortie over the Korean Peninsula, the North’s state media said yesterday.

It is the first time that the North has issued such a threat, a senior Blue House official told reporters.

“We will show off the strong will of our military and people to retaliate [against the U.S.] through an effective military act, in order to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty and the utmost dignity,” the statement in the name of the Supreme Command of the North Korean People’s Army, released by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, said yesterday.

“From this moment, the Supreme Command of Korean People’s Army will put all of the field artillery groups into combat readiness posture No. 1, including the strategic rocket and long-range artillery units which will strike the U.S. continent, Hawaii, Guam and other U.S. imperialists’ military units in the Pacific Ocean, as well as all of the enemy targets in South Korea and its neighboring regions.”

The command said their action is in response to the U.S. military’s “fuss for a nuclear war.”

“On March 25, at around 8 a.m., the U.S. abruptly sent its nuclear bomber B-52 over the South Korean territory from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam,” it said. “Starting from 11:50 a.m., it conducted high-level exercises simulating nuclear bombing, pretending to strike targets in the North.”

A spokesman from the U.S. Forces Korea could not confirm yesterday whether B-52 bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula on Monday. B-52 bombers participated in the South Korean-U.S. joint drill on March 8 and March 19.

“Currently, the North Korean military isn’t showing any specific moves,” the Blue House official said. “Still, we are cautiously analyzing the purpose of the North Korean military in the sense that today is the third anniversary of the Cheonan’s sinking.”

It is the second time that the North has issued a statement in the name of the Supreme Command, following the previous one announced by Kim Yong-chul, a military general.

“The Supreme Command is basically a temporary organization operating during a war,” a high-ranking South Korean government official said. “The combat posture warning seems to be an order for utmost readiness for a combat for the military.”

In 1993, North Korea declared a quasi-state of war, which the South Korean government says was the highest warning it has ever issued.

“So far, the regime declared ‘a quasi-state of war’ or issued a warning ‘equivalent to a quasi-state of war,’?” Lee Ho-ryoung, an associate research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis under the Ministry of National Defense of South Korea, said. “But this warning appears to not be stronger than the 1993 one.”

A day before the third anniversary of the sinking of the Cheonan, the North’s military also carried out its own full-scale joint military drill between the Army, Navy and Air Force, the ruling party’s newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported, in the strategically important city of Wonsan off the East Sea. Leader Kim Jong-un also attended.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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