North Korea issues ominous statement
SEOUL — North Korea’s foreign ministry vowed Monday to “continue to strengthen its deterrence against all forms of war,” a worrying statement by a country with active nuclear weapons and rocket programs.
The statement, carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, comes a month after the provocative communist country successfully launched a long-range rocket believed to be a test of ballistic missile technology that could someday allow Pyongyang to strike the continental U.S. with a nuclear warhead.
Many analysts believe North Korea could soon conduct a third nuclear test despite U.N. resolutions prohibiting additional development of Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The North conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
The statement also called for the dissolution of the United Nations Command, calling it a harmful “legacy of the Cold War” that has helped prevent the adoption of a peace treaty that would officially end the Korean War,
The multinational U.N. Command is tasked with overseeing the 1953 armistice that ended active combat of the Korean War and is headed by U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. James Thurman.
The statement accused the U.S. of using the U.N. Command as a mechanism to “encircle” other Asian countries and keep them from becoming powerful enough to challenge the U.S.
South Korea’s president-elect Park Geun-hye has called for more engagement with the North but has also vowed to respond sternly to future provocations from the North. She is also expected to maintain a strong friendship with the U.S., which is focusing attention on the Asia-Pacific region and particularly on an increasingly wealthy and assertive China.