Posted : 2013-03-10 18:12
Updated : 2013-03-10 18:12

ROK, US start joint drills

North Korea threatens ‘all-out war on final order'

By Kim Tae-gyu

North Korea is intensifying its threat to attack Washington with nuclear weapons as South Korea and the United States start their annual Key Resolve exercise today.

Already angered by U.N. sanctions last week in response to its Feb. 12 nuclear test, Pyongyang is threatening provocative action and has vowed to scrap the armistice that ended the Korean War (1950-53), in time with the launch of the drill.

The Stalinist regime's Rodong Sinmun said Sunday its forward-based and strategic forces were waiting for a final order to strike to turn the strongholds of its enemies into a "sea of fire."

"Our front-line military groups and anti-aircraft and rocket units are awaiting the final order to strike," the Rodong Sinmun reported. "Our nuclear arms are also prepared for combat."

Of particular concern is the recent severance of a military hotline between the two Koreas according to observers, although the majority does not expect the North will instigate all-out aggression during the 11-day exercise.

"The North is also afraid of Key Resolve involving high-tech weapons and well-trained forces of South Korea and the United States. It would not take military action during the drill," said Sejong Institute researcher Paik Hak-soon.

"It is worrisome that a small provocation mistakenly made by a local unit may end up as a major conflict because the two Koreas now have no way to contact each other in an emergency."

In response to the stringent U.N. sanctions agreed to last Thursday in New York (local time), Pyongyang cut the military hot line installed in the truce village of Panmunjeom, further exacerbating tensions on the Korean Peninsula shortly before Key Resolve was set to start.

Key Resolve, previously known as Team Spirit or RSOI, is a computer-simulated exercise that Seoul and Washington say is defensive in nature.

This year, the drill will involve about 10,000 South Korean and some 3,500 U.S. troops, as well as participants from other members of the U.N. Command in Seoul, including Denmark, Australia, Canada, Colombia and the U.K.

Many advanced weapons will be used in the exercise, including F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, B-52 bombers and a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Prof. Kim Yong-hyun of Dongguk University also thought North Korea's ruling elite would not behave recklessly during Key Resolve. After the exercise, however, the belligerent regime may take a different strategy, he said.

His rationale is that even though bellicose, North Korea would not pick a fight with a watchful opponent as it carries out a military exercise with the world's foremost military power.

"Ahead of joint drills by South Korea and the United States, North Korea tends to threaten with torrents of warlike rhetoric but it has never taken military action during the exercises," Kim said.

"It is expected it will follow the traditional pattern of behavior this time around. But, after Key Resolve, it may resort to provocative measures such as launching short-range missiles in the West Sea in violation of the Northern Limit Line (NLL)."

The NLL is a maritime demarcation line between the two Koreas which the North does not accept. Protracted disputes on the NLL have been a major bone of contention between the Koreas.

Chang Yong-seok at the Seoul National University-affiliated Institute for Peace and Unification Studies said young North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might come up with unexpected actions.

"Basically, I believe that Pyongyang will not proceed with military actions during Key Resolve. That is something of a consensus among watchers," Chang said.

"But Kim Jong-un's bold actions after taking power almost completely in a short period of time after his father's death in late 2011 generate worries. Filled with confidence, it is feared Kim could commit something very aggressive."

Under the stewardship of Kim, the third of his family line, North Korea conducted rocket and nuclear tests during the past few months against strong warnings from the global community.

This month, the reclusive regime threatened to mount preemptive nuclear strikes on the U.S. and to nullify the non-aggression pact between the two Koreas.

In response, Seoul promised instant retaliation. In the case of a nuclear attack by the North, Seoul said Kim's regime would disappear.

관련 한글 기사

北 "전투태세 돌입"

北 '오늘부터 정전협정 백지화…최후결전의 시각'
노동신문 '모든 당조직, 전투동원태세 돌입'

북한은 한미 연합군사훈련인 '키 리졸브' 연습이 시작된 11일 예고한 대로 정전협정의 백지화를 주장하고 남한과 미국을 겨냥한 위협 수위를 끌어올렸다.

노동당 기관지 노동신문은 이날 '천만군민이 떨쳐나 우리의 힘, 우리의 식으로 반미대결전을 전민항쟁으로 싸워 승리할 것이다'는 제목의 글에서 '최후결전의 시각이 왔다'며 '3월11일, 바로 오늘부터 이 땅에서 간신히 존재해오던 조선정전협정이 완전히 백지화됐다'고 밝혔다.

앞서 북한은 지난 5일 최고사령부 대변인 성명에서 유엔의 대북제재 움직임과 한미 군사훈련에 반발해 정전협정을 백지화하고 판문점대표부 활동도 전면 중단하겠다고 선언했다.

노동신문은 이 글에서 '위대한 당의 영도 밑에 우리가 지난 수십년 동안 다져온 불패의 군력은 백년숙적 미국을 겨냥한 것이며 우리가 이제 이룩하게 될 최후의 승리는 악의 제국을 이 행성에서 송두리채 없애버리고 조국통일의 축포성을 터칠 역사의 기적'이라고 강조했다.

노동신문은 또 '최후승리를 위하여 다져온 군력'이라는 제목의 글에선 '마침내 참고 참아온 멸적의 불벼락을 가슴후련히 안길 때는 왔다'며 '적들을 겨눈 우리의 전략 로케트들과 방사포들을 비롯해 상상을 초월하는 무서운 위력을 가진 다종화된 우리 식의 정밀핵타격수단들이 만단(만반)의 전투태세에 들어갔다'고 전했다.

북한은 '전체 인민이 병사가 됐다'며 전투준비 분위기도 독려했다.

노동신문은 최고사령부 대변인 성명이 발표되자마자 성, 중앙기관, 도, 시, 군(구역), 연합기업소, 공장, 기업소, 협동농장 등의 모든 당 조직이 긴급회의를 열고 전시에 수행해야 할 제반문제들을 구체적으로 토의·결정한 뒤 일제히 전투동원태세에 들어갔다고 소개했다.

전국에서 총을 잡을 수 있는 모든 사람이 군에 입대나 복대를 탄원했고 노동자, 농민, 학생들로 구성된 노농적위군과 붉은청년근위대도 진지를 차지했다고 주장했다.

신문에는 1993년 국제원자력기구(IAEA)가 핵시설의 특별사찰을 요구하자 북한에 준전시상태가 선포됐던 상황을 설명한 글도 실렸다.

이와 함께 노동신문은 이날 함정, 전투기 훈련과 장갑차들의 퍼레이드 장면 등 전투준비와 관련한 사진을 9장이나 실었고, 1면 전체에는 김정은 국방위원회 제1위원장을 찬양하는 '운명도 미래도 맡긴 분'이라는 제목의 노래를 게재, 군사적 긴장을 계기로 최고 지도자에 대한 충성심을 고취하려는 의도를 드러냈다.

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