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N. Korea warns of attack ahead of S. Korea-U.S. naval drill

All Headlines 11:18 June 29, 2010

By Sam Kim

SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea warned Tuesday it would attack "the stronghold of invaders" if the United States provoked a war in the process of a joint naval drill with South Korea, as tension persists on the Korean Peninsula over the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship.

South Korea and the United States are planning joint naval exercises following Seoul's ongoing efforts to punish North Korea for the sinking through the U.N. Security Council.

Last month, a South Korea-led multinational team of investigators blamed North Korea for the Yellow Sea sinking that killed 46 sailors. North Korea has denied any role in the incident.

The Minju Chosun, the North's Cabinet newspaper, said in an editorial released through the official Korean Central News Agency that a joint South Korean-U.S. drill runs the risk of war.

"It is a clear fact that even a small accidental event during the joint drill can lead to an armed conflict and a full-scale war," the paper said.

"We will bring about a complete victory by uprooting the stronghold of invaders as well as dealing with them with merciless penalties" if the U.S. provokes another war on the peninsula, it said.

It did not say what the "stronghold" referred to, but the North has threatened to turn Seoul into a "sea of fire" in the past.

Past massive South Korean-U.S. drills have almost always prompted the North's 1.2 million troops to be on alert and are believed to heavily drain the impoverished communist country of its resources.

South Korean officials here have said the U.S. plans to send the 97,000-ton USS George Washington, an Aegis-equipped destroyer and a nuclear submarine for the planned exercise. A 4,500-ton destroyer, a submarine and F-15K fighter jets are to participate from the Seoul side.

Last week, China's foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Beijing was "very concerned" about the planned drills.

A neighbor and a strong ally to North Korea, China has yet to hold Pyongyang responsible for the ship sinking and opposes stringent punishment.

samkim@yna.co.kr
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