PYONGYANG – North Korea threatened on Monday to carry out a “preemptive nuclear strike of justice” on the United States and South Korea as the two nations have started their annual military exercises this week. Pyongyang says they are rehearsing for a planned invasion.
U.S. Forces Korea had informed the North’s Korean People’s Army through the U.N. Command that the training that was about to start was purely defensive, but Pyongyang insists on the idea that the allies are planning a “beheading operation” against North Korean leaders aimed at removing Kim Jong Un’s regime.
“If we push the buttons to annihilate the enemies even right now, all bases of provocations will be reduced to seas in flames and ashes in a moment”, North Korea’s National Defense Commission said in a statement released on Monday, as reported by ABC News.
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis asked North Koreans to stop their provocative actions and statements that just raise tensions between the countries and said South Korea and the U.S. are closely monitoring the situation.
The training is part of OPLAN 5015, a wartime plan
Known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, the exercises involve about 17,000 American forces and 300,000 South Korean personnel, who will take part in an 11-day computer-simulated training plus eight weeks of field exercise. The allied forces will participate in ground, air, naval and special operations services, which constitute the Foal Eagle training. Key Resolve is a command-post exercise.
The exercises are part of a wartime plan that South Korea and the United States adopted last year and named OPLAN 5015. No details have been made public but South Korean media reported that the plan includes a contingency for surgical attacks against North Korea’s nuclear weapons and nuclear facilities. “Decapitation” raids will be also involved in the plan to eliminate North’s leaders, including Kim Jong Un, according to the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper.
Davis remarked that the training has been designed to help the joint forces maintain their readiness for operation in case they need to defend South Korea. He emphasized it was not an offensive plan.
The training comes at a time when the international community is seeking to punish North Korea for its recent nuclear test and missile launch. The United Nations last week passed the toughest sanctions ever, and South Korean President Park Geun-hye is set to reveal further unilateral sanctions on Tuesday.
Kim’s regime is particularly angry at his enemies this time and last week ordered his forces to use its nuclear weapons at any time, affirming they were needed after the “gangster-like” sanctions imposed on his government.
The North’s threats may not be real
Daniel Pinkston, a Korean who used to be a linguistic with the U.S. Air Force and is currently a professor at Seoul’s Troy University, said the threats Pyongyang issued on Monday were not credible at all, according to a report by The Washington Post. He noted that Kim’s military would take advantage of the element of surprise if it was really planning to attack a much stronger enemy.
Most of Kim’s rhetoric is designed for North Korea’s listeners in his attempt to appear strong ahead of the Workers’ Party congress, which is scheduled for May and will mark the first in 36 years.
Source: Washington Post