Kim Jong-un responded to use of the B-2 bombers by the United States by saying his rocket forces were ready ‘to settle accounts with the US’
Russia has warned that tensions between North Korea, South Korea and the United States are slipping out of control after Pyongyang said it was placing its missile units on stand-by.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that military activity near North Korea risked slipping into a “vicious cycle” that could get out of control.
The comments were seen as implicit criticism of US bomber flights that followed threats from Pyongyang. Russia also warned that North Korea should cool down, calling on “all sides not to flex their military muscle” and avoid the danger of a belligerent response.
“We are concerned that alongside the adequate, collective reaction of the U.N. Security Council, unilateral action is being taken around North Korea that is increasing military activity,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Earlier today China, the only major ally of the North Korean regime, called for calm as tensions continued to simmer in the peninsula.
The statement came as North Korea responded furiously to the announcement by the US that nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers had been used during military drills over South Korea.
The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un responded to use of the bombers, which dropped dummy munitions on an uninhabited South Korean island during then drill, by saying his rocket forces were ready “to settle accounts with the US.”
According to the North Korean state news agency, KCNA, Kim Jong-un signed an order to put missile units on stand-by to attack US targets at a late night meeting of top generals.
Kim “convened an urgent operation meeting” with his senior generals, signed a rocket preparation plan and ordered his forces on standby to strike the US mainland, South Korea, Guam and Hawaii, state media reported.
The news agency quoted him as saying that the time had come to “settle accounts” with the US, KCNA also quoted him as saying the B-2 flights were an “ultimatum”.
Pyongyang has been angered by joint military drills carried out jointly by South Korea and the US in response to months of bellicose and belligerant language from the North Korean regime.
Earlier this month the UN voted to approve fresh sanctions against North Korea after they carried out an underground nuclear test in February, its third after tests in 2006 and 2009.
The regime in North Korea responded furiously to the imposition of new sanctions announcing on the 7th of March that it has the right to a “pre-emptive nuclear strike” on the US.
US and South Korea military drills began just days later.
Yesterday US Forces Korea said that B-2 stealth bombers flew from a US air base in Missouri and dropped dummy munitions on an uninhabited South Korean island range before returning home.
The Pentagon said this was the first time a B-2 had dropped dummy munitions over South Korea, but later added that it was unclear whether there had ever been any B-2 flights there.
The statement follows an earlier US announcement that nuclear-capable B-52 bombers participated in the joint military drills.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. was making sure its defenses were “appropriate and strong” as North Korea continues to test and seeks to extend the reach of its weaponry.
China, today called for an easing of tensions in the region. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the comments at a daily news briefing.
Despite the seeming seriousness of the threats from North Korea any sort of strike is seen as extremely unlikely. Experts suggest that the fiery rhetoric is an attempt by the North to get South Korea to soften its policies, win direct talks and aid from Washington, and strengthen the Kim Jong-un’s credentials and image at home.