DPRK lambasts ROK's new defense chief

Updated: 2010-12-05 15:46


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 DPRK lambasts ROK's new defense chief

Seoul's Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin (L) shakes hands with with soldiers during his visit to a military base near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul, Dec 5, 2010. [Photo/Agencies]

SEOUL- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) lambasted the Republic of Korea's new defense chief Sunday for threatening to launch air strikes against the DPRK and accused the ROK of causing "uncontrollable, extreme" tension on the peninsula.

The ROK's Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told a confirmation hearing last week that jets would bomb the DPRK if it stages another attack like the shelling on a front-line island that killed four. Kim took office Saturday, replacing a predecessor who resigned amid criticism that Seoul's response to the Nov 23 shelling was too slow and weak.

The DPRK's official Korean Central News Agency issued a statement Sunday accusing the ROK 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 Seoul 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 DPRK 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 (DPRK) military and taking a large-scale counteraction under this pretext," it said.

Seoul'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 US _ 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.

Kim inspected an army base near the heavily fortified land border Sunday and urged troops to strengthen their combat capability and mental toughness, according to his office.

The Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, technically leaving the peninsula at war. The US stations 28,500 troops in ROK.

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