SEOUL - North Korea, facing international censure for this week’s nuclear test, threatened on Wednesday to attack the South after it joined a US-led plan to check vessels suspected of carrying equipment for weapons of mass destruction.
In Moscow, news agencies quoted an official as saying that Russia is taking precautionary security measures because it fears mounting tensions over the test could escalate to full-fledged war.
Adding to mounting tension in the region, South Korean media reported that Pyongyang had restarted a plant that makes plutonium that can be used in nuclear bombs.
North Korea’s latest threat came after Seoul announced, following the North’s nuclear test on Monday, it was joining the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative, launched under the George W. Bush administration as a part of its “war on terror”.
“Any hostile act against our peaceful vessels including search and seizure will be considered an unpardonable infringement on our sovereignty and we will immediately respond with a powerful military strike,” a North Korean army spokesman was quoted as saying by the official KCNA news agency.
He reiterated that the North was no longer bound by an armistice signed at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War because Washington had ignored its responsibility as a signatory by drawing Seoul into the anti-proliferation effort.
The UN Security Council is discussing ways to punish Pyongyang for Monday’s test, widely denounced as a major threat to regional stability and which brings the reclusive North closer to having a reliable nuclear bomb. – Agencies