The US has condemned North Korea’s threat of military action against it, warning it’s ready for “any contingency”.
Pentagon spokesperson George Little told reporters: “We’re concerned about any threat raised by the North Koreans…They need to stop threatening peace on the peninsula, that doesn’t help anyone…and we stand ready to respond to any contingency.”
The reaction comes in response to North Korea ordering its artillery to be ‘combat ready’ in preparation to strike US targets. The Korea State News Agency (KSNA) published the announcement, which was issued by the military’s ‘top command’.
According to the order, the North Korean military will be readying field artillery and strategic rocket units to strike US military bases in mainland United States – and also Hawaii and Guam.
The order marks the latest escalation of Pyongyang’s bellicose rhetoric. It follows the regime’s third nuclear test on February 12, which led to increased United Nations sanctions.
North Korea is not thought to have the capability to strike the United States mainland – although US bases in the Pacific area are within range of its missiles.
South Korea’s defence ministry said it had detected no signs of unusual activity by the North’s military, but will continue to monitor the situation.
The South and the US military are conducting drills until the end of April, which they have stressed are strictly defensive in nature.
China responded that it hopes all sides on the Korean peninsula can exercise restraint. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the comments to reporters at a daily briefing.