US slams North Korea`s `heated rhetoric`

North Korea has threatened to launch a "sacred war" against South Korea.

Washington: The US State Department on Thursday denounced North Korea for its latest “sacred war” threat against the South.

"Unfortunately, North Korea is back to its old belligerent tricks. We need constructive actions, not heated rhetoric," spokesman Philip Crowley said.

North Korea on Thursday said it was ready for a "sacred war" using its nuclear weapons as the South held a live-fire drill in a show of strength a month after Pyongyang`s deadly attack on a border island.

The threat came after South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak, visiting a frontline Army unit elsewhere, warned of severe retaliation in the event of a new attack by the North.

North Korea’s armed forces minister Kim Young-Chun also repeated Pyongyang`s charges that the South`s exercises near the border were in preparation for a new Korean war, the communist state`s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

"The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK (North Korea) are getting fully prepared to launch a sacred war of justice of Korean style based on the nuclear deterrent at any time necessary to cope with the enemies` actions deliberately pushing the situation to the brink of a war," Kim was quoted as saying.

Kim`s comments prompted the US State Department to chide North Korea for its "belligerent tricks".

Some analysts said Seoul`s show of force deterred the North. Others said the hardline regime had been told by close ally China to exercise restraint before a visit to Washington by President Hu Jintao starting on January 19.

(With Agencies’ inputs)