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(LEAD) N. Korea's army warns of 'toughest counteraction' against U.S.

All News 21:33 April 14, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with quotes, details)

SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's military said Friday it will take the "toughest counteraction" against the United States and South Korea, with tensions rising over the North's nuclear and missile program.

Tensions are high on the Korean Peninsula after U.S. officials didn't rule out the military option against North Korea's defiant pursuit of nuclear and missile programs.

"Our toughest counteraction against the U.S. and its vassal forces will be taken in such a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive," the North's military said, according to the official KCNA news agency.

North Korea's military "will as ever courageously counter those who encroach upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK (North Korea) and will always mercilessly foil all the provocative options of the U.S. with Korean-style toughest counteraction."

A U.S. aircraft carrier is heading for the Korean Peninsula amid growing speculation that North Korea may conduct provocative acts, including its sixth nuclear test.

North Korea is set to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung, on Saturday, with monitoring sites reporting activities at a nuclear test site in the North.

A U.S. strike on a Syrian air base, which launched a chemical attack against civilians in Syria, is seen as a warning to other countries, including North Korea.

"In actuality, the Trump administration, which made a surprise cruise guided missile strike at Syria on April 6, has entered the path of open threat and blackmail against the DPRK, describing it as 'a strong warning message' to it," the North Korean military said.

In an interview with the Associated Press, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol said the North will conduct another nuclear test at any time upon the leadership's decision.

Han told the AP that, "If the U.S. comes with reckless military maneuvers then we will confront it with a pre-emptive strike."

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