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Attacking US would be suicide, lawmaker tells N. Korea
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) March 7, 2013

US 'fully capable' of defending against N. Korea threat
Washington (AFP) March 7, 2013 - The United States said Thursday it was "fully capable" of defending itself and its allies against any North Korean missile strike, after Pyongyang threatened to launch a nuclear attack.

The US military could deal with any such attack, US officials said, repeating earlier warnings that North Korea would gain nothing by provocations, while stressing they took its threats seriously.

"I can tell you that the United States is fully capable of defending against any North Korean ballistic missile attack," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

"Our recent success in returning to testing of the upgraded version of the so-called GBI or the CE-II missile will keep us on a good trajectory to improve our defense capability against limited ballistic missile threats."

Before the UN Security Council voted to impose tough new sanctions on North Korea over its February 12 nuclear test, Pyongyang earlier threatened a "pre-emptive" nuclear strike against the United States.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington was taking the threats seriously, but "extreme rhetoric has not been unusual for this regime."

"You have to take a government at its word when it makes these kinds of threats, which is why we are making clear that we have not only full defensive capability for the United States but that we're prepared to defend our allies," she added.

Nuland also urged Pyongyang to give up a threat to scrap the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War.

North Korea announced on Tuesday that it would "completely declare invalid" the agreement from March 11 in response to tougher UN sanctions, theoretically removing the only barrier to a resumption of full hostilities.

Nuland refused to say whether that would leave the US technically at war again with North Korea.

"There are obviously legal procedures and ways that this would have to actually be implemented if the DPRK were looking to pull out of it," she said, referring to the North's official name.

She stressed, though, that "this armistice has been one of the underpinnings of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, so we would obviously urge that this not be the direction that we go."

A top US lawmaker warned North Korea Thursday that any pre-emptive nuclear strike against America would be suicide, as senators pushed for a review of policy towards the isolated state.

"I do not think the regime in Pyongyang wants to commit suicide, but that, as they must surely know, would be the result of any attack on the United States," Senator Bob Menendez told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He was speaking as the United Nations adopted new sanctions on North Korea for last month's nuclear test, and as Pyongyang said a new war was "unavoidable" on the peninsula because of South Korean-US military exercises.

The North's military "will exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors," Pyongyang's foreign ministry said.

Menendez said the threat was "absurd," but he warned: "There should be no doubt about our determination, willingness, and capability to neutralize and counter any threat that North Korea may present."

North Korea has accumulated some 20 to 40 kilos of plutonium, "enough for perhaps six to eight nuclear weapons," Menendez said.

It is also seeking the capability to fit a nuclear warhead to an intercontinental ballistic missile, with some estimates mentioned in the committee that it may be only months or a year away from achieving that.

"In time, if its present course remains unaltered, North Korea will pose a direct threat to the United States," Menendez warned at a hearing to consider US policy towards Pyongyang.

Ranking Republican member Senator Bob Corker accused US administrations of failing in their policies towards the communist-run state, and of not dissuading its closest ally, China, to stop supporting Pyongyang.

North Korea was "a complex policy conundrum" to which "there is no silver-bullet solution," Corker said.

"Yet after nearly 20 years of unsuccessful policies by successive administrations, it seems logical to me that we ought to undertake a comprehensive review of our North Korean strategy, including harnessing new tools to try to crack the North Korean policy nut."

The US special representative for North Korea, Glyn Davies, admitted progress would not "achieved easily" but he challenged Corker's view.

"We cannot and should not dignify or, worse, feed the North Korean narrative that US actions determine DPRK behavior," he said in his written testimony.

"North Korea makes its own choices, selects its own timing, and is alone responsible for its actions."

But he also laid out US principles for dealing with North Korea, also known as the DPRK, as it veers into new waters under fledgling leader Kim Jung-Un.

"First and foremost, the United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state," he said.

"We will not reward the DPRK for the absence of bad behavior. We will not compensate the DPRK merely for returning to dialogue. We will not tolerate North Korea provoking its neighbors."

Davies also stressed that ties would not improve until Pyongyang's relations with South Korea are boosted and the human rights situation in the isolated state is addressed.

A network of political prison camps across the country is reported to hold between 100,000 to 200,000 people including children, he added.

"While denuclearization remains an essential focus of US policy, so, too, does the welfare of North Korea's nearly 25 million people, the vast majority of whom bear the brunt of their government's decision to perpetuate an unsustainable, self-impoverishing military-first policy," he said.


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US 'fully capable' of defending against N. Korea threat
Washington (AFP) March 7, 2013
The United States said Thursday it was "fully capable" of defending itself and its allies against any North Korean missile strike, after Pyongyang threatened to launch a nuclear attack. The US military could deal with any such attack, US officials said, repeating earlier warnings that North Korea would gain nothing by provocations, while stressing they took its threats seriously. "I can ... read more

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