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North Korea threatens "nuclear response" to US-South Korea exercises

media Hillary Clinton in South Korea Reuters

North Korea on Saturday threatened a “powerful nuclear response” to joint military exercises by the US and South Korea, which are due to start Sunday. The country’s powerful National Defence Commission (NDC), chaired by leader Kim Jong-Il, dubbed the manoeuvres “outright provocations”

Declaring that it is ready to launch a “retaliatory sacred war”, the NDC said that the joint naval exercises aim “to stifle the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] by force of arms to all intents and purposes”.

"The army and people of the DPRK will legitimately counter with their powerful nuclear deterrence the largest-ever nuclear war exercises to be staged by the US and the South Korean puppet forces," the committee declared.

Washington and Seoul say the exercises are a bid to deter Pyongyang’s “aggressive” behaviour after March’s sinking of a South Korean warship in which 46 people died. They blame North Korea for the attack, but it denies being responsible and cites a UN Security Council statement which did not identify a culprit.

The argument has dominated the Hanoi Asia-Pacific security forum, at which US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-Chun are present.

China has warned against holding the exercises, while the US has increased sanctions against North Korea.

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