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Politics/Diplomacy
2010/01/24 12:28 KST
N. Korea slams Seoul minister over "preemptive strike" remark

  
SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Sunday took direct aim at Seoul's defense minister for his remark that a preemptive strike against the North would be the only acceptable course of action in the face of an imminent nuclear threat, calling the comment a "declaration of war."

   Last week, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told a local defense forum that the South "would have to strike (North Korea) right away" if the North showed clear signs it was about to attack the South with nuclear weapons.

   An unidentified spokesman for the General Staff of the North's Korean People's Army released a statement Sunday saying it considers the minister's remarks an "open declaration of war" and warned that it may take "stern military actions," according to an English-language report by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   The statement lashed out at the minister's "ourbursts about the preemptive strike," arguing that the comments triggered a heightened state of tension, the report said. Because of the (South Korean) defense minister's outrageous words of preemptive strike, now on the Korean peninsula high-tensioned situation that may trigger another Korean war at any time is being created, it said.

   The spokesman also warned that the North's military "will take prompt and decisive military actions" against any attempt of the South to violate "our dignity and sovereignty."

   The statement came a day after the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, an organ that handles inter-Korean affairs, also blasted the Seoul defense chief for "deliberately worsening inter-Korean relations."

   The committee on Saturday condemned the remarks by Kim and warned that the North would retaliate "with no hesitation" if the South deliberately arouses conflict, according to the KCNA.

   Kim made similar remarks in 2008, then as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, shortly after Pyongyang test-fired several short-range missiles off its west coast. In a show of anger, North Korea kicked out a number of South Korean officials then working at inter-Korean project sites.

   odissy@yna.co.kr
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