S. Korea vows swift response to North; US deploys stealth jets



REUTERS

Published — Tuesday 2 April 2013

Last update 5 April 2013 8:13 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

SEOUL: South Korea will strike back quickly if the North stages any attack, the new president in Seoul warned yesterday, as tensions ratcheted higher on the Korean peninsula amid shrill rhetoric from Pyongyang and the US deployment of radar-evading fighter planes.
North Korea says the region is on the brink of a nuclear war in the wake of United Nations sanctions imposed for its February nuclear test and a series of joint US and South Korean military drills that have included a rare US show of aerial power.
The North, whose economy is smaller than it was 20 years ago, appeared to move yesterday to addressing its pressing need for investment by appointing a reformer to the country's ceremonial prime minister's job, although the move mostly cemented a power grab by the ruling Kim clan.
North Korea had said on Saturday it was entering a "state of war" with South Korea in response to what it termed the "hostile" military drills being staged in the South. But there have been no signs of unusual activity in the North's military to suggest an imminent aggression, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said last week.
"If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations," President Park Geun-hye told the defense minister and senior officials at a meeting yesterday.
The South has changed its rules of engagement to allow local units to respond immediately to attacks, rather than waiting for permission from Seoul.
Stung by criticism that its response to the shelling of a South Korean island in 2010 was tardy and weak, Seoul has also threatened to target North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and to destroy statues of the ruling Kim dynasty in the event of any new attack, a plan that has outraged Pyongyang.
Seoul and its ally the United States played down Saturday's statement from the official KCNA news agency as the latest in a stream of tough talk from Pyongyang.
North Korea stepped up its rhetoric in early March, when US and South Korean forces began annual military drills that involved the flights of US B-2 stealth bombers in a practice run, prompting the North to puts its missile units on standby to fire at US military bases in the South and in the Pacific.
The United States also deployed F-22 stealth fighter jets on Sunday to take part in the drills. The F-22s were deployed in South Korea before, in 2010.
On its part, North Korea has cancelled an armistice agreement with the United States that ended the Korean War and cut all hotlines with US forces, the United Nations and South Korea.
Park's intervention came on the heels of a meeting of the North's ruling Workers Party Central Committee where leader Kim Jong-un rejected the notion that Pyongyang was going to use its nuclear arms development as a bargaining chip.
"The nuclear weapons of Songun Korea are not goods for getting US dollars and they are ... (not) to be put on the table of negotiations aimed at forcing the (North) to disarm itself," KCNA news agency quoted him as saying.
At the meeting, Kim appointed a handful of personal confidants to the party's politburo, further consolidating his grip on power in the second full year of his reign.
The most surprising appointment came yesterday as former Prime Minister Pak Pong-ju was re-appointed as premier, although the move likely signalled another power struggle in Pyongang staged by the country's leader Kim Jong-un.
Pak is viewed as a key ally of Jang Song-thaek, the young Kim's uncle and also a protege of Kim's aunt and is viewed as a pawn in a power game that has seen Jang and his wife re-assert power over military leaders.
Analysts said the move would not likely change Pyongyang's approach to a confrontation that appears to have dragged the two Koreas closer to war.
Pyongyang's on-off negotiations saw it take part in nuclear disarmament talks for five years aimed at paying it off in return for abandoning its atomic weapons program. Those talks fell apart in 2008. Some experts say the talks gave the North grounds to pursue a highly enriched uranium program that took it closer to owning a working arsenal.
Songun is the Korean word for the "Military First" policy preached by Kim's father who used it to justify the use of the impoverished state's scare resources to build a 1.2-million strong army and a weapons of mass destruction program.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said North Korea's announcement that it was in a state of war followed a "familiar pattern" of rhetoric.
China has repeatedly called for restraint on the peninsula.
However, many in South Korea have regarded the North's willingness to keep open the Kaesong industrial zone, located just a few miles (km) north of the heavily-militarized border and operated jointly by both sides, as a sign that Pyongyang will not risk losing a lucrative source of foreign currency.
Closure could also trap hundreds of South Korean workers and managers of the more than 100 firms that have factories there.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Education Minister Azzam Al-Dakhil has spoken of a new education policy which emphasizes the importance of harmonizing admission policies in universities with the needs of the labor market.Al-Dakhil made these remarks during a meeting with un...
JEDDAH: Local bottled water consumption during the summer, Umrah and Haj seasons this year will increase by 10 percent.“This translates into an annual growth rate of between 4 percent and 5 percent,” Rashed Bin-Zouma, a water industry expert, was qu...
RIYADH: Four Saudi secondary students including a young woman from the Eastern Province have received prestigious medals at the 47th International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO), which concluded in Azerbaijan last week.The winners of the four bronze medal...
JEDDAH: The UAE’s decision to lift fuel subsidies beginning in August has raised the possibility of other Gulf states following suit.Economists suggest a wide disparity of prices of gasoline in the Gulf countries will lead to more petrol smuggling op...
DAMMAM: The tourism industry in the Kingdom is witnessing great interest by authorities to develop the archaeological areas, promote their support services and create the best environment for tourism products, said businessman Abdul Mohsen Al-Hokair....
JEDDAH: The ongoing World Circus at north Obhur has brought smiles on the faces of orphans, with its show of acrobats featuring 20 performers and clowns.The orphans of Al-Rawdah district charitable organization said they found the circus entertaining...
RIYADH: The Nepalese ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Udayaraj Pandey, thanked the Kingdom on Thursday as he ends his four-year tour of duty in Saudi Arabia.Earlier in the day, he called on Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar to pay him a courtesy call a...
RIYADH: Movies produced by young and amateur Saudi filmmakers will be shown on Saudi Television starting in the middle of next week.“The films will be shown daily to encourage young Saudi filmmakers,” said Abdulaziz Fahad Al-Eid, senior broadcaster a...
RIYADH: The King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday with the Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC) and Taqnia Energy to launch the first standalone 50MW solar power station at Al-Aflaj.KACST also...
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN Abdullah Al- Muallami unveiled a beautifully framed old kiswa (covering) of the door of the Holy Kaaba at one of the newly refurbished halls of the world body. The...
A policeman was shot dead by an unknown gunman in Qatif in the Eastern Province on Tuesday night.According to a spokesman of the Eastern Province police, the firing took place at 11:30 p.m. in a suburb called Al-Jishi.The targeted police officer was...
JEDDAH: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, will leave for Egypt today on an official visit.This was announced in a statement released by the Royal Court.During the visit, the deputy crown prince wi...
JEDDAH: Jeddah Show, one of the many events of Jeddah Summer Festival 36, is attracting a large number of visitors. The sound-and-light show is being run at the Jeddah International Exhibition and Convention Center.The show tells the story of the Bri...
JEDDAH: The Riyadh Traffic Department carried out extensive campaigns on the main streets, intersections and squares in the city to boost traffic safety levels and discourage bad driving.During the first 72 hours of the campaign, traffic personnel re...
RIYADH: One of two women infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) died here in Riyadh, while the other patient is being treated at a hospital in Al-Kharj, some 60 km from the capital. Since June 2012, the Ministry of...

Stay Connected

Facebook