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Amid nuclear spat, US mocks North Korea's 'young dictator'
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) March 9, 2016

N. Korea fires short-range missiles into sea
Seoul (AFP) March 9, 2016 - North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its eastern coast on Thursday, fuelling military tensions after its recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

South Korea's defence ministry said the two missiles were fired around 5:20am (2020 GMT Wednesday) and flew some 500 kilometres (300 miles), before landing in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) off the North Korean port city of Wonsan, a ministry spokesman said.

Short-range missile launches are a regular and relatively low-level item on North Korea's long list of provocative gestures.

The North fired six high-calibre rockets into the sea a week ago in protest at the adoption of tough, new sanctions on Pyongyang by the UN Security Council.

Those sanctions were imposed as a direct result of the North's fourth nuclear test in January and last month's space rocket launch, which was seen as a disguised ballistic missile test.

Tensions have risen further this week with the launch of large-scale South Korean-US military exercises which Pyongyang responded to with threats of pre-emptive nuclear attack.

And state media caused a stir Wednesday by publishing photos of leader Kim Jong-Un posing with what was claimed to be a miniaturised nuclear warhead.

A US spokesman repeatedly referred to 33-year-old North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's youth Wednesday while warning the "young dictator" against further nuclear provocations.

Kim announced Wednesday that his isolated pariah state had successfully miniaturized a thermo-nuclear warhead, an unproven claim but one that will further inflame tensions.

Pyongyang carried out a nuclear weapons test in January and a banned missile launch last month, defying threats of tighter international sanctions.

State Department spokesman John Kirby issued the now traditional slap down of Kim's "provocative rhetoric" -- but with a new twist, which was mockery of his age.

"I'd say that the young man needs to pay more attention to the North Korean people and taking care of them than in pursuing these sorts of reckless capabilities," said Kirby.

Kirby, a retired admiral who was already commissioned as a US navy officer when Kim was only three years old, could not confirm the claim, but said "we take these comments seriously."

"We have to. I mean, this young man has proven that he is perfectly willing and able to flout and to violate his international obligations," he added.

Challenged on his repeated use of the term, Kirby said: "Factually, it's true. He's young and he's a man." Then he returned to his theme.

"But look, clearly, this young dictator continues to violate international obligations and continues to ignore the desperate needs of his own people and continues to increase the tensions of the peninsula rather than work to decrease the tensions," he said.

While it may be impossible to know whether the State Department's tactic will succeed in getting under the young leader's skin, North Korea does like to employ its own rhetorical flourishes.

Threatening to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike this week, state news agency KCNA warned: "If we push the buttons to annihilate the enemies even right now, all bases of provocations will be reduced to seas of flames and ashes in a moment."

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Previous Report
S. Korea to announce new sanctions on North: official
Seoul (AFP) March 6, 2016
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