North Korea ‘ready to hit back with nuclear attacks’ if provoked
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un Saturday saluted as ranks of goose-stepping soldiers followed by tanks and other military hardware paraded in Pyongyang for a show of strength with tensions mounting over his nuclear ambitions.
After inspecting an honour guard, Kim, in a black suit, watched the parade pour into Kim Il-Sung Square, accompanied by top military and party leaders, state television showed in a live broadcast.
WATCH: North Korean military marches at full tilt
Led by rows of military bands, columns of troops toting rifles and a troupe of sword-wielding female soldiers marched into the vast square in the heart of the city which was festooned in the national colours of blue, white and red.
“Today’s parade will provide a chance to display our powerful military might,” a male voiceover said on the TV broadcast.
Ostensibly the event is to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim’s grandfather, the North’s founder Kim Il-Sung – a date known as the “Day of the Sun” in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name.
In this image made from video broadcast by North Korean broadcaster KRT, soldiers take part in a parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang. (AAP)
In this image made from video broadcast by North Korean broadcaster KRT, soldiers take part in a parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang,
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Goose-stepping soldiers and marching bands filled the square, next to the Taedonggang River that flows through Pyongyang, in the hazy spring sunshine as tanks, multiple launch rocket systems and other weapons waited to parade.
Kim did not address the rally, but his close aide Choe Ryong-Hae gave a defiant speech saying that Pyongyang would react in kind to any provocation – nuclear or otherwise.
“We’re prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and we are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks,” Choe said.
North Korea, still technically at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce but not a treaty, has on occasion conducted missile or nuclear tests to coincide with big political events and often threatens the United States, South Korea and Japan.
“All the brigandish provocative moves of the U.S. in the political, economic and military fields pursuant to its hostile policy toward the DPRK will thoroughly be foiled through the toughest counteraction of the army and people of the DPRK,” KCNA said, citing a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army.
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DPRK stands for the official name of North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“Our toughest counteraction against the U.S. and its vassal forces will be taken in such a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive.”
The state news agency said the Trump administration’s “serious military hysteria” had reached a “dangerous phase which can no longer be overlooked”.
The United States has warned that a policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea is over. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence travels to South Korea on Sunday on a long-planned 10-day trip to Asia.
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China warns against force in North Korea
China has called for talks leading to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, as concerns rise Pyongyang could soon conduct a sixth nuclear test.
China, North Korea’s sole major ally and neighbor which nevertheless opposes its weapons program, on Friday again called for talks to defuse the crisis.
“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing.
North Korea on Friday denounced the United States for bringing “huge nuclear strategic assets” to the region as the USS Carl Vinson strike group with a flag-ship nuclear-powered aircraft carrier steamed closer, and said it stood ready to strike back.
“The Trump administration, which made a surprise guided cruise-missile strike on Syria on April 6, has entered the path of open threat and blackmail,” KCNA quoted the military as saying in a statement.
“The army and people of the DPRK will as ever courageously counter those who encroach upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK and will always mercilessly ravage all provocative options of the U.S. with Korean-style toughest counteraction.”