S.Korea warns of stern retaliation against DPRK provocations
People's Daily Online
(Xinhua) 11:22, March 07, 2016
SEOUL, March 7 -- South Korea's defense ministry on Monday warned of 'stern and merciless' retaliation against any provocations from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) amid the joint annual war games between Seoul and Washington.
Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-Kyun told a regular press briefing that the DPRK must immediately stop any rash acts that can drive itself toward destruction, vowing stern and merciless retaliations against any DPRK provocations in defiance of South Korea's warnings.
The spokesman said Pyongyang should take all responsibilities for any consequences coming from its reckless provocations.
Such comments came after the DPRK's National Defense Commission issued a warning of 'all-out offensive' in response to the largest-ever joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises, code-named Key Resolve and Foal Eagle that kicked off on Monday.
Calling the war games as 'undisguised nuclear war drills,' the National Defense Commission warned of 'pre-emptive and aggressive nuclear strikes' against South Korea and the U.S. mainland, saying that it has a military operation plan, ratified by the supreme leadership, for such nuclear strikes.
South Korea and the United States launched their largest joint military exercises, ever staged on the Korean peninsula, raising the already heightened tensions in the region.
The largest exercises came after the DPRK tested what it claimed was its first hydrogen bomb on Jan. 6 and followed up with the launch of a long-range rocket, which outsiders see as a disguised test of ballistic missile technology, on Feb. 7.
In an apparent warning to Pyongyang over its nuclear test and rocket launch, the U.S. forces would show off its firepower during the drills by deploying various strategic assets such as a nuclear-powered John C. Stennis aircraft carrier and its attendant fleet, a nuclear-capable submarine and aerial tankers to refuel fighter jets. The B-2 stealth bomber is reportedly under consideration for deployment.
Amid the U.S.-South Korea war games, top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un had ordered nuclear warheads to be placed always on standby for use at any time, according to Friday's report from the DPRK's KCNA news agency.
Seoul's unification ministry spokesman Jeong June-Hee told a routine press briefing that the nuclear strikes warning was a grave provocation, saying that South Korea is preparing all available measures in response to any DPRK provocations.
Jeong urged Pyongyang to refrain from any reckless provocations and come to a path to improved inter-Korean relations.
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