N. Korea threatens violent response to anti-missile system

North Korea threatens ‘physical response’ to deployment of THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A passenger walks past a TV screen at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, broadcasting a news report on North Korea's submarine-launched ballistic missile fired from North Korea's east coast port of Sinpo. Reuters

North Korea has threatened a "physical response" to the decision by the United States and South Korea to deploy an anti-missile system on the Korean Peninsula "as soon as the location and time" are confirmed.  

The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system came on Friday and is intended "to protect alliance military forces." The United States maintains 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war.

A South Korean Defence Ministry official said selection of a site for the system could come "within weeks," and the allies were working to have it operational by the end of 2017.

North Korea has conducted four nuclear tests this year as well as tests of several long-range missiles. In response to the tests, the United Nations has imposed fresh sanctions and a number of bilateral sanctions against the country.   

The US Treasury Department blacklisted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over human rights abuses last week.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un participates in a photo session with officials who are committed to the success of the test-fire of surface-to-surface medium long-range strategic ballistic missile Hwasong-10. Reuters

North Korea called the blacklisting "a declaration of war" and vowed a tough response.

"There will be physical response measures from us as soon as the location and time that the invasionary tool for US world supremacy, THAAD, will be brought into South Korea," North Korea's military said in a statement.

"It is the unwavering will of our army to deal a ruthless retaliatory strike and turn [the South] into a sea of fire and a pile of ashes the moment we have an order to carry it out," the statement carried by the official KCNA news agency said.

The country said on Monday it has notified the United States that it would sever the only channel of diplomatic communication between them and will handle all matters, including two Americans it has detained, under wartime laws.

China’s reaction

The announcement of the deployment of the THAAD system also drew a strong reaction from China.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye stated that the THAAD system was not aimed at targeting any third country but is intended to counter the threat from North Korea, in a message apparently intended to allay Beijing’s apprehensions.

"I'm certain the international community knows full well that we have no intention whatsoever to target any other country or threaten them," Park said at a meeting with her senior advisers, according to the Blue House.

However, South Korea's Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun warned the North not to take "rash and foolish action." Otherwise, he said, it would face "decisive and strong punishment from our military."

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hold a joint news conference after their meeting at the State Department in Washington, February 23, 2016. Reuters

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday that THAAD exceeded the security needs of the Korean {eninsula, and suggested there was a "conspiracy behind this move."

South Korean Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho downplayed the possibility that China, Seoul's biggest trading partner, would retaliate economically over the THAAD decision.

"[China] is expected to separate politics and economics," he told lawmakers on Monday in response to a question during a parliamentary session.

TRTWorld and agencies