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N. Korea threatens all-out war ahead of S. Korea-U.S. military drill
SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea drummed up threats of an all-out nuclear war with South Korea and the U.S. on Sunday, one day ahead of the two allies' planned joint military drill which the communist country denounces as targeting the North.

   "Our front-line military groups, the army, the navy and the air force, the anti-aircraft units and the strategic rocket units, who have entered the final all-out war stage, are awaiting the final order to strike," North Korea's Rodong Sinmun, the most widely circulated daily published by the governing Workers' Party of Korea, said. The country's nuclear arms are also prepared for combat, it said.

   "Puppet regimes in the U.S. and South Korea will be turned into a sea of fire in the blink of an eye" if a war breaks out, the newspaper said, repeating the threats of a nuclear war the country has issued in recent weeks over the joint war exercise.

   The newspaper also carried propaganda poems in the same issue, rallying support for the country's threats to fight with the two enemy states.

   The 11-day computer-simulated drill Key Resolve kicks off on Monday while another two-month field training exercise known as Foal Eagle started earlier in the month.

   Key Resolve involves 10,000 South Korean forces and 3,500 U.S. soldiers along with high-profile combat planes and an aircraft carrier. South Korea says the drill is only for defensive purposes, but the North contends it targets the North and reflects the allies' plans to invade the country.

   Denouncing the military drills, the North has threatened to wage a nuclear war and cancel the Armistice Agreement which ended the 1950-53 Korean War, starting on Monday. The two Koreas are technically still at war since no peace treaty has been signed.

   Experts feared heightened military tensions with North Korea during the joint war drills.

   North Korea is also expected to launch nationwide military exercises near the inter-Korea border on Monday or Tuesday in response to the joint South-U.S. drills.

   The communist country is likely to fire short-range missiles or launch other military provocations during their military drills, a South Korean military source said.

   "In the event of (the North's) provocations, (South Korea) will respond with forces 10 times stronger than the provocations," the military source said.

   pbr@yna.co.kr
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