North Korea Threatens U.S. Bases In Pacific

More blustering from North Korea:

SEOUL — North Korea on Thursday threatened to attack American military bases in Japan and on the Pacific island of Guam in retaliation for training missions by American B-52 bombers over the Korean Peninsula, while state radio blared air-raid warnings to the North Korean people.

Until the 1990s, air-raid drills had been a popular tool for the North Korean regime to highlight the perceived threat of an American invasion and to instill in its people a sense of crisis and solidarity. The one-hour air-raid drill on Thursday came amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula after the North’s nuclear test on Feb. 12 and the subsequent United Nations sanctions against the North.

Nuclear-capable B-52 bombers, taking off from Guam, had previously flown missions over South Korea as part of joint military exercises. But this month, the Pentagon took the rare action of publicly announcing those missions to reaffirm the United States’ “nuclear umbrella” for South Korea and Japan at a time of rising anxiety over the North’s nuclear threats. South Korean news media also carried photos of an American nuclear-powered attack submarine making a port call at a South Korean naval base.

“The U.S. should not forget that the Anderson Air Force Base on Guam, where B-52s take off, and naval bases in Japan proper and Okinawa, where nuclear-powered submarines are launched, are within the striking range of the DPRK’s precision strike means,” a spokesman of the Supreme Command of the North Korean People’s Army told the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Thursday.

He added, without elaborating, “Now that the U.S. started open nuclear blackmail and threat, the DPRK, too, will move to take corresponding military actions.”

(…)

Separately, North Korea said on Thursday that it would convene its Supreme People’s Assembly on April 1. The rubber-stamp Parliament, which usually meets once a year, endorses government budgets, policies and personnel reshuffles ordered by the top leader, Kim Jong-un.

One of the two joint American and South Korean military exercises that have infuriated North Korea ended on Thursday. But Seoul and Washington remained alert over the possibility that the North might follow up on some of its vaguely worded threats to attack the allies.

Such fears increased on Wednesday, when a hacking attack originating from an Internet address in China caused a widespread shutdown, paralyzing about 32,000 computers at South Korea’s two largest public broadcasters, an all-news cable channel and three banks.

The South’s Korea Communications Commission said on Thursday that a “single organization” was behind the spread of the malicious code. The virus infiltrated the networks through company servers that send automatic updates of security and other software.

While South Korean regulators said it was still too early to assign blame, suspicion fell on North Korea, which recently threatened the South and the United States with attacks. South Korea has previously accused North Korean hackers of using Chinese addresses to launch their attacks.

“With a strong suspicion over possible North Korean involvement, we are pursuing all possibilities,” a senior aide to President Park Geun-hye told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Kim Jong Un seems to be ratcheting up the tension on the Korean Peninsula for some reason. Whether it’s leading to something is, of course, unclear, but perhaps this assembly on April 1st will tell us something.

FILED UNDER: General,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    This is all part of an elaborate April Fool’s joke, to be ratified by the Supreme People’s Assembly.

  2. PJ says:

    @Gustopher:

    This is all part of an elaborate April Fool’s joke, to be ratified by the Supreme People’s Assembly.

    No, Kim Jong Un has kidnapped Rick Astley and he’s setting us all up for one humongous live Rickroll.

  3. JKB says:

    Reading over at In From the Cold, there is a bit of perspective to keep in mind here. Apparently, NK gets a bit boisterous every year about this time culminating in the big exercise in late March ending the Winter Training Cycle. What we don’t know if the particulars have changed such as the common reduction in training due to fuel and other limitations. Also, the end the cycle apparently means a lull as NK soldiers head to the farms to grow food for their units.

    But NK may not realize their change of status and the change in attitude in Washington:

    The reasoning behind the change is quite obvious; North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats are maturing rapidly and within the next three or four years (at the outside), we will witness the day when Pyongyang has nuclear-tipped missiles on alert, and capable of hitting strategic targets in the United States. And, with the DPRK making hay about its evolving capabilities, someone in the White House or Pentagon believed it was appropriate to send a little reminder to Pyongyang.

    So these are dangerous times, especially if NK is expecting the same appeasement from the US while in the US, even the diplomacy-first and foremost are seeing it is time to prepare for the worst. Miscommunication is the mother of most arguments be they domestic or nuclear.

  4. matt bernius says:

    With anything NK related, it seems to me that everything hangs on China. And while China clearly wants to avoid a radical solution to the problem of North Korea (or rather North Korean immigrants), China still has everything to lose and nothing to gain from a North Korea with advanced Nuclear capabilities.

    An therefore, any analysis of the situation that fails to account for Bejing’s interests in this, seems somewhat lacking.

    The real question, contra In From the Cold, is not whether the US is willing to go to war with North Korea over South Korea, but is China willing to go to war over North Korea over South Korea. And given how tied the Chinese and South Korean economies are, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which China benefits from North Korea going to war with South Korea (or Japan or the US).

    In fact, any significant military (let alone nuclear action) taken by North Korea would most likely greatly destabilize the Chinese Economy. Given that fact, beyond Saber rattling, this is as much China’s problem as it is ours.

    So again, my bet is that NK will not, in the foreseeable future, achieve the requisite missile technology needed to make it a true global threat.

  5. Rob in CT says:

    I have to admit: I just can’t help laughing at them.

    I know our military has to take it more seriously, of course. But fundamentally, the regime isn’t just evil, it’s pathetic.

    I really don’t think they will pick a fight. They’ll yell a lot, but they’re full of it.