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N. Korea warns U.S. is within range of strategic rockets, nukes
SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea warned Wednesday that the United States is now within the range of its strategic rockets and atomic weapons, and stressed it is now a country that can protect itself from foreign aggression.

   An article carried by Uriminzokkiri, North Korea's propaganda Web site, said that the U.S. should not think it is safe because it is on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

   The report, monitored in Seoul, said that if Washington persists in trying to suffocate North Korea with hostile policies, the North Korean military and its people will erase the country from the face of the earth.

   The online media outlet did not elaborate on what constituted hostile measures, but Pyongyang has been claiming that any move to tighten sanctions will be viewed as an act of war. The United States along with South Korea and Japan are moving to get the U.N. Security Council to condemn the communist country's Feb. 12 nuclear test and penalize it for defying the wishes of the international community. The country already received flak for launching the Unha-3 rocket in December, which many experts speculated had the capability to send a warhead to the United States.

   Before the latest nuclear test, which Seoul thinks resulted in a 6-7 kiloton yield, the isolationist country detonated two smaller yield fission devices in 2006 and 2009. A kiloton is equivalent to 1,000 tons of conventional explosives.

   Uriminzokkiri also said that the United States, instead of learning from its defeat in the Korean War (1950-53), has stepped up efforts to invade the North. It said that Washington and its followers should realize the capability of the North to deal a decisive blow to its enemies and refrain from further provocations.

   The latest report comes as Pyongyang has been claiming for some time that it has the means to strike back at the United States. The country changed its constitution last year to announce it was a nuclear power, although the international community has yet to acknowledge the status officially. North Korea has been consistently asked to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and rules set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

   yonngong@yna.co.kr
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