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North Korea says prepared to respond to nuclear attack by US in kind; marks founder’s birth

North Korea warned the United States on Saturday to end its military hysteria or face retaliation.

world Updated: Apr 15, 2017 09:42 IST
Missiles paraded at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on Saturday.
Missiles paraded at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on Saturday.(AP Photo)

North Korea warned the United States on Saturday to end its “military hysteria” or face retaliation as a US aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region and the reclusive state marked the ‘Day of the Sun’, the 105th birth anniversary of its founding father.

The country’s number two official on Saturday said North Korea was prepared to respond to any nuclear attack by the United States in kind. “We’re prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and we are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks,” Choe Ryong-Hae said in a speech at a ceremony before a large military parade started.

Concern has grown since the US Navy fired Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield last week in response to a deadly gas attack. That raised questions about US President Donald Trump’s plans for North Korea, which has conducted several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of UN and unilateral sanctions.

The North’s warning came as leader Kim Jong Un, looking relaxing relaxed in a dark suit and laughing with aides, oversaw a military parade at Pyongyang’s main Kim Il Sung square, named after his grandfather, on his birth anniversary.

Goose-stepping soldiers and marching bands filled the square, next to the Taedonggang River that flows through Pyongyang, in the hazy spring sunshine, followed by tanks, multiple launch rocket systems and other weapons.

Single-engine propeller-powered planes flew in a 105 formation overhead.

North Korea, still technically at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce but not a treaty, has on occasion conducted missile or nuclear tests to coincide with big political events and often threatens the United States, South Korea and Japan.

Military vehicles prepare for a parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on Saturday. (AP Photo)

“All the brigandish provocative moves of the US in the political, economic and military fields pursuant to its hostile policy toward the DPRK will thoroughly be foiled through the toughest counteraction of the army and people of the DPRK,” the KCNA state news agency said, citing a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army.

DPRK stands for the official name of North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Our toughest counteraction against the US and its vassal forces will be taken in such a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive.”

“COMMITMENT TO MISSILES”

KCNA said the Trump administration’s “serious military hysteria” had reached a “dangerous phase which can no longer be overlooked”.

The United States has warned that a policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea is over. US vice-president Mike Pence travels to South Korea on Sunday on a long-planned 10-day trip to Asia.

State TV showed North Korea’s Pukkuksong submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) on parade with tanks and other heavy machinery in front of Kim Jong Un. It was the first time North Korea had shown the missiles, which have a range of over 1,000 km (600 miles), at a military parade.

Image from a live footage of a parade to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founder Kim Il-Sung, showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R). (AFP Photo)

Displaying more than one of the missiles indicates North Korea is progressing with its plan to base a missile on a submarine, which are hard to detect, said Joshua Pollack, editor of the Washington-based Nonproliferation Review.

“It suggests a commitment to this programme,” said Pollack. “Multiple SLBMs seems like a declaration of intent to advance the programme”.

China, North Korea’s sole major ally and neighbour which nevertheless opposes its weapons programme, on Friday again called for talks to defuse the crisis.

North Korea on Friday denounced the United States for bringing “huge nuclear strategic assets” to the region as the USS Carl Vinson strike group with a flag-ship nuclear-powered aircraft carrier steamed closer.