N Korea blasts naval drill as `declaration of war`

S Korea is hosting a multi-national naval drill aimed at preventing the transfer of WMDs.

Last Updated: Oct 16, 2010, 13:44 PM IST

Seoul: North Korea Saturday blasted South Korea
for hosting a multi-national naval drill aimed at preventing
the transfer of weapons of mass destruction, calling it an
"open declaration of war".

South Korea for the first time played a full part in the
Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) on Thursday, with
warships and aircraft from four countries staging an exercise
off the southern port of Busan.

The reclusive North, where leader Kim Jong-Il is paving
the way for his son Kim Jong-Un to succeed him, is
nuclear-armed.

"The (South Korean) puppet regime revealed its criminal
plot to ruin the hard-won atmosphere for dialogue and peace
and to drive inter-Korean ties to the edge of a war by hosting
the PSI," the North`s Minju Joson daily said.

"This is an outright military provocation and an open
declaration of war against us," the official daily of the
North`s government said in a commentary, according to
Pyongyang`s Korean Central News Agency.

In a separate commentary the North`s ruling communist
party`s official daily, Rodong Sinmun, said the country would
build up its armed forces 1,000-fold should the United States
continue its military threat against it.

The North already has one of the largest standing armies
in the world.

The South says the drill does not target specific
countries but the Minju Joson said the exercise was aimed at
interdicting and searching ships that belong to the communist
state.

About 10 warships and aircraft from South Korea, the
United States, Japan and Australia took part in the one-day
manoeuvres.

"A naval blockade, which can be seen only during wartime,
must not be tolerated," it said, adding the exercise was aimed
at "seizing, inspecting and searching our ships and blockading
our ports."

"Illegal provocative acts such as the PSI would bring
nothing but military conflicts and worse inter-Korean
relations," it warned.

South Korea was previously only an observer in the
initiative for fear of offending its communist neighbour.
After the North`s second nuclear test in May last year, it
said it would become a full member.

Seoul announced it would host the latest exercise after
accusing Pyongyang of torpedoing one of its warships in March
and killing 46 sailors.

The North denies carrying out the attack.

Bureau Report