Friday, February 3, 2023

North Korea warns Seoul against ‘serious threat’ over missile alert

Hyung-Jin Kim, Associated Press

Published Saturday 2 April 2022 22:19 EDT

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 April 2022 22:51 EDT

SEOUL, South Korea ( Associated Press) – The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called the South Korean defense minister a “foamy guy” because he talked about preventive attacks on the North, and warned Sunday that the South is facing a “serious”. threat.”

Kim Yo Jong’s statement came amid heightened tensions between rival Koreans over the North’s wave of weapons tests this year, including its first intercontinental ballistic missile launch in more than four years. Some experts say her statement may indicate that North Korea will soon conduct more meaningful arms tests and take a hard line on South Korea.

The ICBM test, which violated North Korea’s four-year moratorium on major arms tests, was a major embarrassment to South Korea’s Liberal President Moon Jae-in, who pushed hard for greater reconciliation between the two countries and ‘ to find a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear power. crisis.

During a visit to the country’s strategic missile order on Friday, South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook said that South Korea has the ability and readiness to launch precision attacks on North Korea if it discovers that the North intends is to fire missiles at South Korea. Seoul has long maintained such a preventative military strategy to deal with North Korea’s growing missile and nuclear threats, but it was still highly unusual for a senior Seoul official under the Moon administration to discuss it in public.

Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, on Sunday made sharp rhetoric against Suh and issued threats against Seoul.

“The senseless and frothy guy dares to call a ‘preventative attack’ at a nuclear weapons state,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement through state media. “South Korea could face a serious threat due to the reckless remarks made by its defense minister.”

“South Korea must discipline itself if it wants to avert a disaster,” she said.

Kim Yo Jong, a senior official in the North’s ruling Labor Party, is in charge of relations with Seoul and Washington. South Korea’s intelligence service says she is the North’s number 2 official behind her brother.

Pak Jong Chon, a secretary in the Labor Party’s central committee, separately warned that “any slight error of judgment and weak statement that the other party makes under the current situation” could cause “a dangerous conflict and a full-scale war.”

Pak said North Korea would “mercilessly direct military force to destroy major targets in Seoul and the South Korean military” if South Korea prevented a North Korean attack.

Relations between the Koreas flourished briefly in 2018 after North Korea suddenly reached out to South Korea and the United States and expressed its willingness to put its nuclear program on the negotiating table. Kim Yo Jong visited South Korea at the time to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics and conveyed her brother’s invitation for Moon to visit the North. Kim Jong Un and Moon finally met three times in 2018.

But North Korea has turned a colder shoulder on Moon and severed ties with South Korea after its broader diplomacy with the United States collapsed in 2019 due to disputes over US-led economic sanctions against the North.

“Kim Yo Jong’s remarks predict another important military test,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “Similar to how Moscow and Beijing are trying to alleviate the world that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is somehow to blame for NATO, Pyongyang will blame its nuclear and missile progress on the US-South Korea alliance.”

Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said the North Korean statements indicate that he will take tough steps towards South Korea. He said Pyongyang was sensitive to Seoul’s preemptive strike capability because it had no military assets and no ability to detect South Korean attacks in advance.

But Cheong added that Seoul’s public comments on impending strikes would only strengthen the voices of hardline officials in Pyongyang and increase tensions between the Koreans.

Moon’s five-year term ends in May, when he will be replaced by conservative Yoon Suk Yeol, who during his campaign openly discussed North Korea’s preventive attack strategy. His liberal opponents criticized him for provoking North Korea unnecessarily, but Yoon said he would follow a principled approach to Pyongyang.

The United States has urged North Korea to return to unconditional talks, but the North has rejected such a revelation, saying the US should first renounce its hostility towards it. Kim Jong Un has repeatedly promised to expand his nuclear arsenal as a diplomatic stalemate with Washington continues.

Some experts say the North’s recent missile tests were intended to perfect its weapons technology, increase its leverage in future negotiations with the US and ensure stronger internal loyalty. They say North Korea may soon launch another ICBM launch, a launch of a satellite-carrying rocket or a test of a nuclear device in the coming weeks.

Nation World News Desk
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