North Korea Warns US, Allies of “Merciless Attack”

North Korea has warned of a “merciless” attack if the US and its allies incite it. The warning has come hours after President Barack Obama described the state’s nuclear and missile programmes as a “grave threat” to the world.

“If the US and its followers infringe upon our republic’s sovereignty even a bit, our military and people will launch a one hundred or one thousandfold retaliation with [a] merciless military strike,” the state-controlled Minju Joson newspaper said.

Describing Obama as a hypocrite for supporting a nuclear-free world, the newspaper claimed that the US is putting “frantic efforts” to develop new nuclear weapons at home.

“The nuclear programme is not the monopoly of the US,” it said.

To the warning, Russia, which shares a border with the secluded communist state, quickly responded saying that any missile heading for Russian airspace would be promptly shot down.

“We will see it and shoot it down,” the deputy defence minister, Viktor Popovkin, said, according to Interfax.

The warning came in the backdrop of reports in Japan and South Korea that the Pyongyang could be preparing for test launching two long-range missiles in retaliation against sanctions consented to by the UN security council at the weekend.

The security council imposed stiffer measures as punishment for North Korea’s controlled nuclear explosion last month, including a ban on all weapons exports from North Korea and the import of all but small arms.

The security council also called on member states to stop and search North Korean ships suspected of carrying nuclear and ballistic weapons technology.

Obama said today that every effort would be made to enforce the sanctions. While he repeated his offer of negotiations, Obama said that “belligerent, provocative behaviour that threatens neighbours will be met with significant and serious enforcement of sanctions that are in place”.

A South Korean newspaper reported that North Korea had started withdrawing money from bank accounts in Macau to prevent it from being frozen under UN sanctions.

North Korea has responded to UN action by threatening to conduct more missile launches, enrich uranium and weaponise all its plutonium. There are also fears that it is preparing to carry out another nuclear test, its third since October 2006.

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