North Korea repeated threats to target U.S. military bases on Tuesday as Washington and its allies tightened economic sanctions against the isolated country by targeting Pyongyang’s main foreign exchange bank with new measures.
The rhetoric from North Korea - which has threatened the United States with nuclear war and rehearsed drone attacks on South Korea - and Washington’s hardening reaction drew more concern from China, Pyongyang’s one major ally, which said the situation was “sensitive”.
Pyongyang says United Nations sanctions, agreed after North Korea carried out a third nuclear test in February, are part of a Washington-led plot to topple its leadership.
“From this moment, the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army will be putting into combat duty posture No. 1 all field artillery units, including long-range artillery units and strategic rocket units, that will target all enemy objects in U.S. invasionary bases on its mainland, Hawaii and Guam,” the North’s KCNA news agency said.
The order was issued in a statement from the North’s military “supreme command”.
South Korea’s defence ministry said it saw no sign of imminent military action by North Korea and most military analysts say Pyongyang will not risk a conflict with the United States that it would lose.
South Korea and the U.S. military are conducting drills until the end of April, which they have stressed are strictly defensive in nature. The North accuses Washington of war preparations by using B-52 bombers which have flown over the Korean peninsula as part of the drills, and it has abrogated an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.