S Korea may strike N Korea if n-attack imminent

S Korea may strike N Korea if n-attack imminent

Seoul, Oct 10 (IANS) The South Korean Defence Ministry said on Monday its military would pre-emptively strike North Korea in case a nuclear attack by Pyongyang was imminent.

The statement by ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun came on the foundation day of the the Workers’ Party of Korea in 1945.

On September 9, North Korea announced its successful test of a nuclear warhead that can be mounted on ballistic missiles. It came just eight months after its fourth nuclear detonation in early January.

A pre-emptive strike against the nuclear facilities has long been shunned by previous South Korean governments as it can lead to an all-out war on the Korean peninsula, Xinhua reports.

However, the advances in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile capabilities caused super hard-line calls from a fraction of conservative figures, with some even demanding the nuclear armament of South Korea.

An officer with South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said at a press briefing that North Korea has prepared for another nuclear test that can be conducted at any time if its leadership decides on it.

The officer said South Korea’s military is closely monitoring and tracking relevant situations with all possibilities.

S Korea, US begin joint naval drill

Seoul, Oct 10 (IANS) South Korea and the US on Monday began joint naval drills amid speculation that North Korea would conduct a nuclear test or missile launch to mark the founding anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party.

The exercise, seen as a show of force against North Korea, is being carried out simultaneously in the East and West seas, also known as the Sea of Japan and Yellow Sea, respectively, Efe news reported.

The US sent the USS Ronald Reagan — a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier — to take part in the exercise, the South Korean Navy said in a statement.

“The ‘Invincible Spirit’ exercise is aimed at showing the allied forces’ strong commitment to counter relentless provocations by the North and improve their maritime interoperability,” the statement added.

As well as the USS Ronald Reagan, the allies plan to mobilise dozens of warships and submarines, including destroyers Ticonderoga-class Aegis missile cruisers, P-3 and P-8 maritime patrol aircrafts, Apache helicopters and FA-18C Hornet fighters.

The exercise aims to simulate a strike by North Korean special commandos, assisted by submarines and aircraft, attempting to infiltrate across the sea demarcation lines.

The US currently maintains around 28,500 troops in South Korea.

The joint manoeuvres come at a time of growing tension in the peninsula, amid fears that the North could carry out another nuclear or missile test close to the 71st anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party on Monday.

The Kim Jong-un regime has traditionally run these tests around the most important dates on their calendar, such as its latest nuclear test on September 9, Day of the Foundation of the Republic.

In the last three days, satellite images have revealed an increase in activity at North Korea’s Tongchanr-ri missile launch base.

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