By Steve Herman
North Korea’s army marked its 80th anniversary Wednesday with a vow to retaliate against what its chief of staff terms the traitors in the South. The remarks are the latest in a series of harsh threats directed at Seoul in recent weeks.
North Korea’s provocations
North Korea is boasting of “powerful, modern weapons” that can defeat in a single blow the United States, which it accuses of plotting a war against it.
Chief of general staff, Ri Yong Ho, gave no further details about the weaponry in his speech to mark the North Korean army’s 80th anniversary.
His address, from Pyongyang’s House of Culture, was broadcast later in the day on North Korean television.
Vice Marshal Ri says the blood of North Korea’s military and civilians is boiling in anger with a desire for revenge against South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak. He reiterates a threat of “sacred war,” transmitted earlier in the week, to crush the bases of provocation in the South.
North Korea’s new, young leader Kim Jong Un was in the audience for Ri’s remarks. But Kim – who holds the rank of a four-star general – did not address the gathering.
North Korea’s failed rocket launchs
North Korea, on April 13, launched a multi-stage missile which exploded about two minutes into its flight over the Yellow Sea.
Pyongyang claimed it was trying to launch a peaceful satellite into space. The international community condemned the launch as a violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions forbidding North Korea from utilizing ballistic missile technology.
The failure only intensified fears that North Korea is preparing a third claimed nuclear test.
Pyongyang has made no announcement it is planning such a test. But satellite images from the beginning of this month showed fresh digging at the underground site where North Korea claims to have conducted two previous nuclear detonations.
Those tests followed failed long-range rocket launches in 2006 and 2009.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokeswoman Park Soo-jin Wednesday said the North should focus more on addressing reported food shortages.
Park says her country strongly urges North Korea to pay more attention and care to its people, not to focus on developing nuclear weapons.
US sanctions North Korea
A White House spokesman warned North Korea to refrain from additional hostile or provocative acts. Jay Carney told reports that such moves would do nothing to advance peace on the Korean peninsula or in Northeast Asia.
The United States scrapped a February 29 food aid deal with North Korea after the attempted rocket launch. The action by Washington also prompted a vow of retaliation by Pyongyang.