South Korea's military said Wednesday it was fully prepared to strike back at the North if its neighbor uses force, a day after Pyongyang threatened to scrap the armistice agreement ending the 1950-53 Korean War.
"If North Korea undertakes provocation and threatens the lives and safety of our people, we make it clear that we have all preparations in place for a strong and decisive punishment not only against the source of the aggression and its support forces but also the commanding element," a major general of the South Korean military told a press conference in Seoul, Reuters reported.
North Korea said Tuesday that it would cut off a hot line with the U.S. military in South Korea, called the truce that stopped the Korean War in 1953 null and void and threatened to strike the United States with “lighter and smaller nukes,” the New York Times reported
North Korea’s latest threats came as the U.N. Security Council was about to consider a new sanctions resolution backed by both the U.S. and China, and five days after the United States and South Korea began their annual joint military exercises. North Korea has always denounced such drills as rehearsals for invasion, and its military started its own drills, with dictator Kim Jong-un visiting troops and his government exhorting the North Koreans to stay on a war footing.
“As we have already declared, we will take second and third countermeasures of greater intensity against the reckless hostilities of the United States and all the other enemies,” the supreme command of the North’s Korean People’s Army said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. “They had better heed our warning.”
“Now that the U.S. imperialists seek to attack the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] with nuclear weapons, it will counter them with diversified precision nuclear strike means of Korean style,” the statement said. “The army and people of the DPRK have everything including lighter and smaller nukes unlike what they had in the past.”
When it announced its third nuclear test last month, North Korea said it had tested a “miniaturized and lighter” atomic bomb that could theoretically be used atop missiles, although South Korean and American officials said North Korea was in fact far from such a goal.