North Korea warned Friday that another war with South Korea would involve nuclear arms and spread beyond the peninsula, after a prominent US politician and a top US nuclear envoy visited Pyongyang and Seoul to defuse tension, state media reported.
Uriminzokkiri, North Korea’s official website, monitored by the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency, said in a commentary that war on the Korean Peninsula is only a matter of time, stoking already high tensions after the North shelled a western South Korean island on Novomber 23 and killed four people.
“If war breaks out, it will lead to nuclear warfare and not be limited to the Korean Peninsula,” it said.
The two Koreas remain technically at war after the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in a truce.
In a separate editorial carried in the North’s ruling party newspaper, also monitored by Yonhap, Pyongyang reiterated its long-running demand that Washington agree to a peace pact to formally end the war and withdraw its 28, 500 troops stationed in South Korea as a deterrent.
The violent rhetoric came as New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was in North Korea on a private mission aimed at taming the regional tensions heightened by the deadly bombardment and the revelation of a modern uranium enrichment program in the North.
Uranium provides a second track to developing atomic bombs in addition to plutonium.
Pyongyang, which has conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, claims its uranium enrichment activity is intended for “peaceful” purposes.
Sung Kim, Washington’s envoy for stalled six-party nuclear talks on North Korea, flew to Seoul on Friday from Beijing where he had assisted Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg in persuading China to use its influence over Pyongyang to rein in the regime.
On Thursday, the North’s foreign ministry said it supports “all proposals for dialogue, but would never beg for it,” including the six-nation talks that also involve the US, South Korea, Japan, Russia and China.
South Korea and the US dismiss any chances of immediate dialogue with North Korea, while host China has proposed emergency six-nation talks on ways to quell the tension.