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NKorea lambasts SKorea's new defense chief

South Korean soldiers wait for a ferry behind their national flag at a port on Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010. South Korea's new defense minister vowed Saturday to immediately retaliate against North Korea if the communist country attacks again, warning Pyongyang will plot a new kind of provocation. (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man)
North Korea lambasted South Korea's new defense chief Sunday for threatening to launch air strikes against the North and accused the South of causing "uncontrollable, extreme" tension on the peninsula.
Sunday, December 05, 2023
By: HYUNG-JIN KIM
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea lambasted South Korea's new defense chief Sunday for threatening to launch air strikes against the North and accused the South of causing "uncontrollable, extreme" tension on the peninsula.

The South's Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told a confirmation hearing Friday that jets would bomb the North if it stages another attack like the shelling on a front-line island that killed four South Koreans.

Kim took office Saturday, replacing a predecessor who resigned amid criticism that South Korea's response to the Nov. 23 shelling was too slow and weak.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency issued a statement Sunday accusing the South of staging a series of "frantic provocations" including the defense minister's remarks.

"The frantic provocations ... are rapidly driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to an uncontrollable extreme phase," the official Korean Central News Agency said in a dispatch from Pyongyang.

The dispatch said South Korea plans to stage new naval drills with the United States soon, start its own live-fire drills from Monday and deploy missiles, rockets and other sophisticated weapons to Yeonpyeong Island that was hit by a North Korean artillery barrage.

"The puppet military warlike forces were reported to have already worked out the so-called 'retaliatory plan' which calls for sparking off an armed clash after getting on the nerves of the (North Korean) military and taking a large-scale counteraction under this pretext," it said.

South Korea's military declined Sunday to confirm whether it has such a military retaliation. Joint Chiefs of Staff officers only said a new joint drill with the U.S.

- which would follow last's week's massive joint naval drill at Yellow Sea - is still under discussion with Washington and the live-fire exercise is a routine drill that has been scheduled well before the artillery barrage.

Skirmishes occur periodically along the two Koreas' disputed western maritime border, but the latest assault on Yeonpyeong Island, home to both fishing communities and military bases, was the North's first to target a civilian area since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The attack came eight months after the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on a North Korean torpedo attack - also near the tense maritime border.

Forty-six sailors were killed and North Korea has vehemently denied involvement.

The Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, technically leaving the peninsula at war. The U.S. stations 28,500 troops in South Korea to deter potential aggression from North Korea, which considers the troops a threat rather than a deterrent.

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Associated Press writer Kim Kwang-tae in Seoul contributed to this report.

 

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