The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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N. Korea warns of nuke disaster

Seoul, March 2 (AP): North Korea said today that if the US attacks it, the conflict will turn into a nuclear war and cause “nuclear disasters” in Asia and the entire world.

The North’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper accused the CIA of preparing a surprise attack on the communist country’s nuclear facilities.

“If the US imperialists ignite a war on the Korean peninsula, the war will turn into a nuclear war. As a consequence, the Koreans in the North and South and the people in Asia and the rest of the world will suffer horrifying nuclear disasters,” Rodong said.

The report, carried by the North’s state-run KCNA news agency, also claimed that Washington has put its forces around the Korean peninsula on a “semi-war footing” and “is pushing ahead with nuclear war preparations in full swing.”

Meanwhile, North Korea reiterated that its nuclear activities were “strictly for peaceful purposes and poses no threat to anyone.” “Crushing the US plot to attack North Korea is a very important issue related to the peace and safety of Asia and the world, the existence and future of mankind,” Rodong said.

Pyongyang, which accuses Washington of inciting the nuclear crisis as a pretext for an invasion said yesterday, that it was ready for war with the US.

North Korea will take “a self-defensive measure when it thinks that the us pre-emptive attack is eminent,” the KCNA said.

“In that case the measure will involve combat means as strong as those mobilised by the US,” it said, without elaborating. “The people and the people’s army of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, will certainly wipe out the aggressors with the might of single-hearted unity.”

Washington has repeatedly said it has no plans to attack North Korea, but has stressed that “all options are on the table.” The US regularly conducts military exercises with South Korea. One of the annual exercises —called “Reception, staging, onward movement and integration” — will take place March 19-26. A second exercise - called “Foal Eagle” —- is scheduled for March 4-April 2.

The US military command in Seoul said the joint drills are “defence-oriented” and are not related to the ongoing dispute over North Korea’s nuclear programme.

“These unceasing US war drills drive the situation on the K peninsula to such a dangerous pitch of tension that a nuclear war may break out on it any moment,” KCNA said.

“The DPRK is keeping itself fully ready to repel the US military attack,” said KCNA, monitored in Seoul.

Raising tension, Pyongyang last week test-fired a missile into the sea off its east coast. It also reactivated a 5-megawatt reactor that could produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, US and South Korean officials said.

Today, Cuban President Fidel Castro told Japan he would do what he could to help resolve a crisis over North Korea’s suspected nuclear ambitions but he did not know leader Kim Jong-il well, Kyodo news agency said.

Castro was responding to a request from Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to use his influence to help resolve the Korean nuclear crisis and the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang decades ago, Kyodo said.

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