published Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

North Korea warns military cleared to wage nuke attack

South Korean army soldiers walk on the empty road after South Korean vehicles which were refused for entry to North Korea at the customs, immigration and quarantine office in Paju, South Korea, near the border village of Panmunjom on Wednesday. North Korea on Wednesday barred South Korean workers from entering a jointly run factory park just over the heavily armed border in the North, officials in Seoul said, a day after Pyongyang announced it would restart its long-shuttered plutonium reactor and increase production of nuclear weapons material.
South Korean army soldiers walk on the empty road after South Korean vehicles which were refused for entry to North Korea at the customs, immigration and quarantine office in Paju, South Korea, near the border village of Panmunjom on Wednesday. North Korea on Wednesday barred South Korean workers from entering a jointly run factory park just over the heavily armed border in the North, officials in Seoul said, a day after Pyongyang announced it would restart its long-shuttered plutonium reactor and increase production of nuclear weapons material.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

PYONGYANG, North Korea — Ratcheting up the rhetoric, North Korea warned early Thursday that its military has been cleared to wage an attack on the U.S. using “smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear” weapons.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, said Wednesday that it will deploy a missile defense system to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam to strengthen the region’s protections against a possible attack.

The warning from an unnamed army spokesman and carried by Pyongyang’s state-run news agency was latest in a series of escalating threats from North Korea, which has railed for weeks against joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises taking place in South Korea and has expressed anger over tightened sanctions for a February nuclear test.

Washington calls the military drills, which this time have incorporated nuclear-capable stealth bombers, routine annual exercises between the allies. Pyongyang calls them rehearsals for a northward invasion.

The foes fought on opposite sides of the three-year Korean War, which ended in a truce in 1953. The divided Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war, and Washington keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect the ally.

The military statement said North Korean troops had been authorized to counter U.S. aggression with “powerful practical military counteractions,” including nuclear weapons.

However, North Korea’s nuclear strike capabilities remain unclear. Pyongyang is believed to be working toward building an atomic bomb small enough to mount on a long-range missile but is thought to be several years from being capable of mastering the technology.

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