North Korea warns of war over 'satellite test' interference
The move comes as South Korea and the US begin a large-scale joint military exercise.
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North Korea amplified its saber-rattling Monday, putting its armed forces on alert and warning the West of war if any nation interferes with its planned satellite launch.
The United States and other countries believe the launch is cover for a test of Pyongyang's intercontinental ballistic missile. The missile, which can be armed with nuclear warheads, is capable of hitting Alaska and Hawaii, at least in theory. (See a graphic with a map here and a political cartoon from caglecartoons.com here.)
The brinksmanship comes as the US and South Korea begin their annual large-scale military exercises today. North Korea fears such exercises could mask an invasion, and last week said it couldn't guarantee the safety of passenger planes flying near its airspace.
The Guardian reports that North Korea had been liberal in its threats.
"Shooting our satellite for peaceful purposes will precisely mean a war," the north's military said in a statement issued by the state news agency.
It warned that a retaliatory strike "not only against all the interceptor means involved but against the strongholds" of the US, Japan and South Korea would result....
In a separate dispatch, the agency said the military had ordered all personnel to be "fully combat ready" so that they could "deal merciless retaliatory blows" to the enemy.
The Korea Times reported that the US and Japanese officials have suggested they might try to shoot down a North Korean missile, if launched.
Bloomberg reports that the North had also cut off its communication channel with South Korea, and barred South Korean workers from entering a joint industrial complex. It said that "more than 700 South Koreans were unable to enter the Gaeseong Industrial Complex in North Korea."