North Korea has ordered the preparations for strategic rocket strikes in the event of any “reckless” US provocation.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un issued the order on Friday at an overnight emergency meeting with top army commanders as a direct response to the use of nuclear-capable US B-2 stealth bombers in ongoing US joint military drills with South Korea.
In a meeting with military leaders early Friday, Kim Jong Un said “he has judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation,” the official KCNA news agency reported.
The rockets are aimed at U.S. targets, including military bases in the Pacific and in South Korea, it said.
“If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, (we) should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea,” KCNA reported.
On Thursday, the United States deployed two nuclear-capable B2 stealth bombers over South Korea to conduct “deterrence” mission.
The two bombers flew out of Whiteman Air Force base in Missouri and dropped dummy ordnance on targets in South Korea and completed the 13000-mile round trip in a “single continuous mission,” according to a press release by the US military.
Kim argued that the stealth bomber flights went beyond a simple demonstration of force and amounted to a US “ultimatum that they will ignite a nuclear war at any cost.”
Speaking at a news conference in the Pentagon on Thursday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel denied that the United States had aggravated the situation by flying the stealth bombers to the region.
Hagel, however, pointed out the United States was “prepared to deal with any eventuality” from North Korea and that Washington takes Pyongyang’s threats very seriously.
North Korea had already put its strategic units at combat-ready status on Tuesday for possible strikes against the US.
On Monday, the US and South Korea signed a military pact, allowing the allies to respond even to low-level provocations from North Korea.
The limited acts of provocation envisaged in the pact include maritime border incursions, shelling of border islands and infiltration by low-flying fighter jets or by Special Forces units.
On March 21, South Korean and US forces successfully completed an annual war game codenamed ‘Key Resolve’, amid high military tension with North Korea, announcing that they would continue to maintain high alert in the wake of fresh threats of attack from Pyongyang.
North Korea, however, condemned the maneuvers as a launch pad for a “nuclear war.”
The United Nations also approved a fresh round of sanctions against Pyongyang following its nuclear test in February, a move that added to Pyongyang’s escalating rhetoric against Washington and Seoul.