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“North Korea 'Ready for Sacred War' With the South”
by BBC News   
December 23rd, 2010

North Korea is ready for a "sacred war of justice" using a nuclear deterrent, its armed forces minister has said.

Kim Yong-chun accused South Korea of making preparations for war by holding live-fire exercises near the border.

The drills are one of the largest in South Korea's history, involving tanks, helicopters and fighter planes.

North Korea shelled a Southern island last month killing four people - the first time Northern shells had killed civilians since the 1950-53 war.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has promised immediate retaliation to any further Northern attack.

The BBC's John Sudworth says people on the Korean peninsula are used to fiery rhetoric from Pyongyang, but as the tension escalates, the danger is that one side will feel forced to act on its threats.

'Military provocation'

The South Korean army acknowledged that the drill was aimed to display its firepower.

Although the South has conducted 47 military drills this year, this is the largest winter live-fire exercise ever conducted on land.

The North earlier branded Seoul's exercises "warmongering" but until now had not threatened the South with any retaliation.

During a meeting in the North Korean capital, Mr Kim, quoted by Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency, accused the South of preparing for a new Korean War.

"The South Korean puppet forces perpetrated such grave military provocation as renewing their shelling against the DPRK [North Korea] during their recent exercises for a war of aggression in the West Sea [Yellow Sea] of Korea," he said.

"This indicates that the enemy's scenario for aggression aimed at the start of another Korean War, has reached the phase of its implementation."

During a meeting in the North Korean capital, Mr Kim, quoted by Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency, accused the South of preparing for a new Korean War.

"The South Korean puppet forces perpetrated such grave military provocation as renewing their shelling against the DPRK [North Korea] during their recent exercises for a war of aggression in the West Sea [Yellow Sea] of Korea," he said.

"This indicates that the enemy's scenario for aggression aimed at the start of another Korean War, has reached the phase of its implementation."

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