Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

South Korea Makes a Show of Force against Pyongyang ; Cruise Missile Disclosure Comes as North Declares Need for Ballistic Weapons

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

South Korea Makes a Show of Force against Pyongyang ; Cruise Missile Disclosure Comes as North Declares Need for Ballistic Weapons

Article excerpt

South Korea on Thursday staged large military drills and disclosed a new cruise missile capable of hitting any target in North Korea.

South Korea flexed its military muscle Thursday by staging large military drills and disclosing a new cruise missile capable of hitting any target in North Korea, as the North became increasingly candid about its intentions to build intercontinental ballistic missiles tipped with nuclear warheads.

"We no longer hide but publicly declare: If the imperialists have nuclear weapons, we must have them, and if they have intercontinental ballistic missiles, we must have them too," the North's state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun, the most authoritative mouthpiece for the Pyongyang leadership, said in a commentary published Thursday. "Anger seeks weapons."

"Imperialist" is the word North Korea uses to refer to the United States.

Washington and its allies have condemned North Korea's launching of a satellite in December and its underground nuclear test on Tuesday as a cover for developing nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles capable of reaching North America. But only recently did the North begin publicly indicating that it indeed intended to build such missiles.

On Jan. 24, it said that Washington's hostilities, which it said were behind U.N. sanctions against the country, were forcing it to redirect its rocket and nuclear programs to "target against the U.S."

Although blustering is a common propaganda trope for North Korea, its increasingly public boasting comes amid growing concerns among governments in the region that North Korea is moving closer to building workable long-range nuclear missiles.

If unchecked, U.S. officials fear, the North's drive would embolden Iran to pursue its own nuclear ambitions despite stiff sanctions.

"It's important for the world to have credibility with respect to our nonproliferation efforts," Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday in urging the world to make a "swift, clear, strong and credible response" to Pyongyang's nuclear test on Tuesday, its third. "What our response is with respect to this will have an impact on all other nonproliferation efforts."

South Korea's reaction has been swift.

On Thursday, its political parties put aside their bickering over domestic politics and passed nearly unanimously a parliamentary resolution condemning the North's nuclear test. Its navy deployed destroyers and submarines off its eastern coast to test their combat readiness. …

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