Sydney Morning Herald
February 06, 2003
Seoul: North Korea warned today that a US pre-emptive attack on the North’s nuclear facilities would trigger a “full-scale war” on the volatile Korean Peninsula, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said.
The warning came after US Secretary of Defence Donald H Rumsfeld labelled the North’s government a “terrorist regime.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s Guardian newspaper has quoted a North Korean spokesman as saying that Pyongyang may strike US forces pre-emptively rather than wait for an American attack after a war with Iraq.
“The United States says that after Iraq, we are next”, the Guardian website quoted Ri Pyong-gap, a North Korean Foreign Ministry deputy director, as saying yesterday.
In a commentary carried by Radio Pyongyang, Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s main state-run newspaper warned: “If the United States launches a surprise attack on our peaceful nuclear facilities, it will spark a full-scale war.”
The North Korean broadcaster was monitored by the South Korean news agency Yonhap.
Rodong accused the United States of planning to send reinforcements to the region and launch pre-emptive attacks on North Korea’s main Yongbyon nuclear complex, which Pyongyang says it is reactivating to generate electricity. The US has denied it is planning an attack on North Korea.
In Washington, Rumsfeld said restarting the nuclear program would give the North a troubling option – making nuclear weapons for itself or selling them to any other country.
“That is something the world has to take very seriously,” he said