By Larisa Brown
NORTH Korea warned yesterday that it would pulverise the United States if it was attacked by Washington and accused Donald Trump of pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war.
‘We’ll pulverize you all!”
Supreme leader Kim Jong-un’s military said there would be a merciless response to any act of war by the US President in which no aggressors would survive.
China weighed in with a warning that anyone provoking North Korea would pay the price. Foreign minister Wang Yi said conflict could break out at any moment and there can be no winner.
A North Korean official said in a TV interview that President Trump’s troublemaking and aggressive language had brought a thermonuclear war close.
Over the past week Mr Trump has posted a series of messages on Twitter in which he has referred to North Korea as a menace, said the country was looking for trouble and that he would solve the problem with or without China’s help.
Yesterday Pyongyang’s vice foreign minister Han Song Ryol accused Mr Trump of adding fuel to a vicious cycle of tensions in the region. He announced his country was ready to go to war if President Trump provoked it. There is international concern that North Korea will test a nuclear bomb this weekend to coincide with today’s Day of the Sun, the 105th anniversary of the birth of the country’s founder Kim Il-sung.
North Korea’s military also upped its warmongering, boasting that it would ‘ruthlessly ravage’ the US if Washington chose to attack.
A statement from the North Korean People’s Army, published on official news agency KCNA, added that US military bases in South Korea ‘ as well as the headquarters of evils such as the (South Korean presidential) Blue House would be pulverised within a few minutes’.
It said: ‘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.’
The US threatens North Korea from its numerous bases in South Korea. All these bases could be wiped out by North Korea with the help of conventional weapons, including chemical weapons like sarin gas.
The tense war of words pushed the Kremlin to intervene and call on all parties to show restraint and refrain from any provocative action. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the developments were of great concern.
Images have emerged showing US fighter jets gathered on a runway at Kadena air base in Japan this week in a show of force.
The US air force staged a massive ‘elephant walk’, a term used to describe a military exercise that involves taxiing entire squadrons of aircraft in close formation as would be necessary in an urgent wartime situation. The 18th Wing stationed at Kadena is the largest combat-ready wing in the air force, operating two squadrons of F-15 Eagle fighters, as well as HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters, E-3 Sentry early warning aircraft and KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refuelling planes.
The unannounced exercise is designed to prepare airmen to respond quickly to a threat if necessary, and will also be seen as the US flexing its military muscles at a time of heightened tensions with North Korea.
US troops were also seen preparing for a military exercise near South Korea’s border with the North. Images released by the US military showed soldiers with American M1A2 tanks in the South Korean border city of Paju. The move followed the dispatch of the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and three warships towards the Korean peninsula earlier this week.
Han Song Ryol said yesterday that if the US showed any sign of ‘reckless’ military aggression, Pyongyang was ready to launch a pre-emptive strike of its own.
The official said his government had determined the Trump administration is ‘more vicious and more aggressive’ than that of Barack Obama, and Mr Trump’s tweets had added fuel to the flames.
He added that North Korea will keep building up its nuclear arsenal in ‘quality and quantity’ and said Pyongyang is ready to go to war if that’s what Mr Trump wants.
Han said: ‘Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words. It’s not the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea’s official name) but the US and Trump that makes trouble.’
The Chinese foreign minister said all sides must stop provoking and threatening and start taking a flexible approach to resuming dialogue. Wang Yi added that China was willing to support any such effort.
He said: ‘Once a war really happens, the result will be nothing but multiple loss. ‘No one can become a winner. No matter who it is, if it wants to make war or trouble on the Korean Peninsula, it must take the historical responsibility and pay the due price.’
Mr Trump has called for China, North Korea’s economic lifeline, to put more pressure on the country.
He has threatened that if Beijing isn’t willing to do more to squeeze the North, the US might take the matter into its own hands.
China’s national airline, Air China, cancelled some flights to Pyongyang on Friday, citing poor demand.
US satellite imagery published on Thursday showed the North could conduct another underground nuclear test, its sixth, at any time.
Pyongyang claims it is close to perfecting an intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear warhead that could attack the US mainland.
Many experts believe that at its current pace of testing, North Korea could reach that potentially game-changing milestone within a few years – on Mr Trump’s watch as president.
Despite reports that Washington is considering military action if the North goes ahead with another nuclear test, Han did not rule out the possibility of a test in the near future.
Konstantin Kosachev, a senior Russian lawmaker, said yesterday that the US is a greater threat to global peace than North Korea.
The head of the foreign affairs committee added that ‘ the entire world is scared and left guessing if it strikes or not’.
Mr Kosachev said there was a ‘small hope’ that President Trump’s administration would listen to warnings from Russia and China not to use military force against nuclear-armed Pyongyang.