Korea says it too will use force against U.S. if necessary

This photo, released by the Korean Central News Agency on Dec. 4, 2019, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) visiting a revolutionary battle site on a snow-covered Mount Paekdu, a volcano on the North Korean-Chinese border. (Yonhap)

This photo, released by the Korean Central News Agency on Dec. 4, 2019, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) visiting a revolutionary battle site on a snow-covered Mount Paekdu, a volcano on the North Korean-Chinese border. (Yonhap)

Seoul: North Korea has lashed out at U.S. President Donald Trump for hinting at the use of force against the communist state, saying it too will take “prompt” measures if necessary.

“One thing I would like to make clear is that the use of armed forces is not the privilege of the U.S. only,” Pak Jong Chon, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army, said in a statement carried by the North’s Korean Central News Agency.

“Anyone can guess with what action the DPRK will answer if the U.S. undertakes military actions against the DPRK,” said the statement. DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The statement came hours after Trump said Washington could use force if it must while attending the NATO summit in Britain.

“Now we have the most powerful military we’ve ever had and we’re by far the most powerful country in the world. And, hopefully, we don’t have to use it, but if we do, we’ll use it. If we have to, we’ll do it,” Trump said, urging North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un to honor their agreement to denuclearize.

Trump and Kim met twice in Singapore and Vietnam, but the U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks have stalled since their Vietnam summit ended without a deal.

The North Korean official said Kim himself was “displeased” to hear Trump’s latest remarks, and insisted the only thing preventing a physical conflict between the countries was the close relations between their leaders.

“I think the only guarantee that deters physical conflict from flaring up in relations between the DPRK and the U.S. despite such a dangerous military stand-off is the close relations between the top leaders of the DPRK and the U.S.,” Pak said in his statement.

“I clearly state here that if the U.S. uses any armed forces against the DPRK, we will also take prompt corresponding actions at any level,” he added.

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un rode a horse to visit Mount Paekdu, considered the birthplace of his late father, for the second time in less than two months, calling for a fight against “imperialists” and “class enemies,” state media reported on Wednesday.

His trip to the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula came as North Korea and the United States are ramping up pressure on each other to make more concessions as the year-end deadline Pyongyang set for Washington to come up with new proposals in their denuclearization talks is drawing closer.

The trip, the second of its kind since October, also suggests that Kim could soon make a major policy announcement as he has visited there ahead of big political or diplomatic decisions in the past.

“Riding a steed across the vast area of Mt. Paektu together with the commanding officers who accompanied him, he recollected the bloody history of the guerrillas who recorded dignity on the first page of the history of the Korean revolution by shedding their blood in the vast plain of Mt. Paektu,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

“Now that the rising generations emerge as the main force, new issues arise from the global political structure and social and class relations, and the imperialists and class enemies make a more frantic attempt to undermine the ideological, revolutionary and class positions of our Party, we should always live and work in the offensive spirit of Paektu,” Kim was quoted as saying.

The visit to the mountain came as Pyongyang has demanded Washington come up with acceptable proposals in their denuclearization negotiations before the end of this year, a deadline set by the leader in April. Kim said that he could take a “new way” if Washington fails to do so.

Nuclear talks have been stalled since the no-deal summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in February as they remain far apart over how to match Pyongyang’s denuclearization steps with Washington’s sanctions relief and other concessions.

The two sides held working-level talks in October but failed to narrow differences.

On Tuesday, the North’s Vice Foreign Minister Ri Thae-song issued a statement urging the U.S. to do its part to salvage the negotiations, saying that it is entirely up to the U.S. what “Christmas” gift it wants to get.

He hinted that the North could lift the self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests, saying that Pyongyang has done its utmost “not to backtrack from the important steps it has taken on its own initiative.”

Trump later said that the U.S. could use military force, if necessary, against Pyongyang, a rare threat of use of force since the two held their first summit in June last year, though he emphasized his close personal relationship with the North Korean leader.

Kim’s trip to Mount Paekdu this week came about two months after he rode a horse to visit the mountain in October, slamming the U.S. for sticking to sanctions against his regime and calling for stepped-up “self-reliance” against such hostile acts.

On Tuesday, he attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of a newly built urban township in Samjiyon County at the foot of the mountain.

The construction is part of North Korea’s project to complete the development of Samjiyon County by 2020, the 75th anniversary of the ruling party’s establishment. Pyongyang has urged stepped-up efforts to turn the area into the “wealthiest” region in the country, calling it a fight against hostile forces bent on sanctions.

YONHAP

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