Seoul: Military officials of North Korea on Tuesday threatened to attack South Korea, the United States and its military installations in Hawaii and Guam, as per BBC news reports.
"All artillery troops including strategic rocket units and long-range artillery units are to be placed under class-A combat readiness," the Korean People`s Army (KPA) supreme command said in a statement.
The threat from the North’s Korean People’s Army Supreme Command came only hours after President Park Geun-hye of South Korea warned that the North Korean leadership could ensure its survival only when it abandons its nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, provocations and threats.
North Korea said today that all of its strategic rocket and long-range artillery units “are assigned to strike bases of the US imperialist aggressor troops in the US mainland and on Hawaii and Guam and other operational zones in the Pacific as well as all the enemy targets in South Korea and its vicinity.”
“They should be mindful that everything will be reduced to ashes and flames the moment the first attack is unleashed,” the North Korean command said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen after North Korea’s launching of a three-stage rocket in December and its third nuclear test last month. In response, Washington and Seoul pushed for a United Nations Security Council resolution imposing more sanctions on North Korea and this month began their annual joint military drills intended to warn North Korea against attacking the South.
North Korea has since issued a torrent of threats to turn Washington and Seoul into a “sea of fire.” Its leader, Kim Jong-un, who has inherited the "military first" policy of his late father, Kim Jong-il, has made a round of visits to military units in the last week. He inspected live-fire artillery and amphibious landing exercises, ordering his soldiers to send the enemies “to the bottom of the sea as they run wild like wolves threatened with fire,” according to North Korean media.
However, a South Korean defence ministry spokesman said, "We are closely monitoring the situation. So far there has been no particular North Korean troop movement."
Addressing a ceremony for the 46 sailors who died in the 2010 "Cheonan" incident, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye warned Pyongyang that its only "path to survival" lay in abandoning its nuclear and missile programs.
The North has always denied sinking the Cheonan, but a few months later it launched an artillery attack on a South Korean border island, killing four people.
North Korea`s patron and sole major ally China was quick to urge calm from all sides Tuesday.
"We hope that relevant parties will exercise restraint so as to ease the tension," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
Military tensions on the Korean peninsula have been at an elevated level for months, following December`s rocket launch and the North`s third nuclear test which it carried out last month.
Both events triggered UN sanctions that infuriated the North, which has spent the past month issuing increasingly threatening statements about unleashing an "all-out war" backed by nuclear weapons.
It was particularly incensed that nuclear-capable US B-52 bombers flying out of Andersen Air base on Guam took part in recent joint South Korea-US military exercises.
"We will demonstrate the firm resolution of our people and military to protect our sovereignty and dignity through real military action," the KPA statement warned.
The latest threat came days after the South Korean and US militaries signed a new pact, envisaging a joint military response to even low-level provocation by North Korea.
With agency inputs