N. Korea threatens U.S. with 'nuclear war'
"SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea would respond to a pre-emptive U.S. military attack with an "annihilating strike and a nuclear war," the state-run media said Monday, heightening anti-U.S. rhetoric amid close scrutiny of its missile program.
The Korean Central News Agency, citing an unidentified Rodong Sinmun newspaper "analyst," accused the United States of increasing military pressure on the isolated communist state and basing new spy planes on the Korean Peninsula.
The North Korean threat of retaliation, which is often voiced by its state-controlled media, comes amid U.S. official reports that Pyongyang has shown signs of preparing for a test of a long-range missile. North Korea claims it has the right to such a launch.
On Friday, Pyongyang accused the United States of driving the situation on the Korean Peninsula "to the brink of war," and said it is fully prepared to counter any U.S. aggression.
Monday's report accused Washington of escalating military pressure on the country with war exercises, a massive arms buildup and aerial espionage by basing new spy planes in South Korea.
"This is a grave military provocation and blackmail to the DPRK, being an indication that the U.S. is rapidly pushing ahead in various fields with the extremely dangerous war moves," the dispatch said.
"The army and people of the DPRK are now in full preparedness to answer a pre-emptive attack with a relentless annihilating strike and a nuclear war with a mighty nuclear deterrent," the report said.
DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
White House spokesman Tony Snow refused to respond to what he called "a hypothetical situation."
"It is a statement about what may happen if something that hasn't happened happened, if you follow my drift," he said.
North Korea routinely accuses the U.S. of aerial espionage, issuing a tally of such flights at the end of every month. The U.S. military doesn't comment, although it acknowledges monitoring North Korean military activity.
Washington and Japan have said in recent weeks that spy satellite images show North Korea has taken steps to prepare a long-range Taepodong-2 missile for a test-launch.
Estimates for the range of the missile vary widely, but at least one U.S. study said it could be able to reach parts of the United States with a light payload.
Speculation that Pyongyang could fire the missile has waned in recent days since the country's top ally and a major source of its energy supplies, China, reportedly urged North Korea not to go ahead with the test.
Meanwhile, a South Korean government official said Seoul is considering buying U.S. shipborne SM-2 missiles to bolster its missile-defense system.
The move is the latest by South Korea and Japan to strengthen their defenses amid signs of the North Korean missile test. Seoul announced last week the purchase of Patriot interceptor missiles from Germany.
SM-2 missiles, however, are reportedly effective against cruise missiles and at striking aircraft but would not be able to hit a long-range missile.
"I understand that we have requested information" on the missiles for purchase, said Park Sung-soo, an official at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, without elaborating.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the possible sale last week, according to its Web site. The order would be for 48 SM-2 Block IIIB tactical standard missiles and associated equipment and training.
The agency estimated the cost at $111 million."
Anybody think we should drop the nuke first?