North Korea responded to a US military drill in which B-52 stealth bombers flew over South Korea on Friday, by ordering its missile units to prepare for strikes against the US mainland and American military bases in the region.
“The time has come to settle accounts with the US imperialists,” said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, as he announced the order for missile units to prepare to “mercilessly strike the US mainland… military bases in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea”, in the event of a “reckless” US provocation.
The flight of B-52 bombers – which are capable of delivering nuclear warheads - was part of regular joint military exercises between the United States and their allies South Korea, designed as a show of force to the north and as training for the possibility of an attack on South Korea from the North. North Korea describes these exercises as preparations for war, and said on Friday that they amount to an ”ultimatum that they will ignite a nuclear war at any cost”.
Kim Jong-Un issued the order for his country’s missile units to be placed on standby to attack the US during a late-night meeting called in response to the war games over the border.
According to the Yonhap news agency, the South Korean military have confirmed a “sharp increase” in the movement of personnel and vehicles around the North’s long range missile sites. Although some doubt that North Korea has missiles capable of hitting Hawaii or the US mainland, the country has successfully put a satellite into space, demonstrating their expertise in long-range rocket technology, and has conducted a series of nuclear weapons tests.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that his government would not be cowed by such threats and was ready to respond to “any eventuality”. “We must make clear that these provocations by the North are taken by us very seriously and we’ll respond to that,” he said.