North Korea vows ‘physical response’ to US exercise

July 23, 2010 04:36

North Korea has promised a “physical response” to joint US-South Korean military exercises this weekend. The comments came as Asian foreign ministers met in Vietnam for a regional security forum.

BBC News

The forum has been dominated by the crisis resulting from North Korea’s alleged sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

The US has accused Pyongyang of engaging in “provocative” behaviour and has announced new sanctions against it.

North Korea’s delegation spokesman at the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) Regional Forum (ARF) in Hanoi said the military exercises – which begin on Sunday – were an example of 19th Century “gunboat diplomacy” and went against the sovereignty and security of his country.

“It is a new century and Asian countries are in need of peace and development, and DPRK [North Korea] is also moving to that end,” said Ri Tong-il.

He said the exercises went beyond defensive training and would involve “sophisticated weapon equipment”.

“It is a threat to the Korean peninsula and the region of Asia as a whole. And the DPRK’s position is clear: there will be physical response to the threat imposed by the United States militarily.”

Washington and Seoul say the war games – involving the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, 20 other ships and submarines, 100 aircraft and 8,000 personnel – are intended to deter North Korean aggression.

China has criticised the plans and warned against any action which might “exacerbate regional tensions”.


The Asean Regional Forum is working to agree a joint statement addressing inter-Korean tensions – something which has so far proved a challenging task.

BBC’s Rachel Harvey in Hanoi said there had been hopes that the forum could be a chance to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the North Korean border (21 July 2010) Hillary Clinton visited the Demilitarised Zone between the Koreas earlier this week

But if anything, the proximity of the protagonists seems to be inflaming sentiment, our correspondent adds.

South Korea already has strong backing from the US over its condemnation of the North.

On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is attending the forum, accused Pyongyang of launching a “campaign of provocative, dangerous behaviour”.

On Wednesday, the US announced it was to impose new sanctions on North Korea, aimed at halting nuclear proliferation and the import of luxury goods.


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