North Korea Says U.S., Allies Aiming to Provoke an `All-Out War' in Region

North Korea said the U.S. is promoting military hysteria in South Korea and Japan to provoke an “all-out war” that will spread outside the Korean Peninsula.

“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to the phase of an all-out war due to the reckless provocations of the U.S.” and its allies, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported late yesterday, citing a statement from a spokesman for the country’s National Peace Committee of Korea.

The mobilization of South Korean, Japanese and U.S. air, land and sea forces will mean the conflict won’t be “confined to a local war,” KCNA said. North Korea’s army and people “are ready for both an escalated war and an all-out war.”

North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last month, the first such attack on South Korean territory since the 1950-53 Korean War, raised tensions already heightened by the March sinking of a South Korean warship. An international panel said the sinking was caused by a North Korean torpedo.

The warship case and the island shelling incident have been “cooked up” by the U.S. and its allies, KCNA cited the spokesman as saying yesterday. North Korea has said last month’s shelling was in response to a military provocation after South Korea fired into waters each country claims as its own.

China Talks

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il met with China’s State Councilor Dai Bingguo in Pyongyang last week and “reached important consensus” on issues of the Korean peninsula, China’s Foreign Ministry said at the time.

China must “lead and guide North Korea to a better future,” U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said while visiting Tokyo last week. China suffers from “myopia” in failing to persuade North Korea to change its behavior, he said.

China responded by saying Mullen was increasing tensions in the region rather than defusing them.

“Those persons making accusations against China, I ask what kind of efforts has he done to promote regional stability and peace,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Dec. 9. “Military threats cannot solve problems and can only increase tensions.”

China has refused to take sides in the standoff between North Korea and South Korea while criticizing regional military exercises by the U.S., South Korea and Japan in recent weeks as counterproductive.

Six-Nation Forum

The U.S., Japan and South Korea rejected China’s Nov. 28 proposal to reconvene six-nation negotiations over dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program, saying Kim’s regime has failed to fulfill previous agreements. Instead, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week met her Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Washington.

The six-nation talks, involving North Korea, South Korea, China, the U.S., Japan and Russia, stalled in April 2009. North Korea’s Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun left Pyongyang yesterday for a visit to Russia, KCNA reported.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will travel to North Korea this week on a “private visit,” State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said Dec. 8 in Washington. Richardson, who has been to North Korea several times, will likely share details of his trip with the State Department when he returns, Crowley said.

Japan plans to deploy additional forces nationwide against the threat of a North Korean missile attack, Kyodo news service reported yesterday, citing unidentified government and self- defense forces officials.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Tighe in Sydney at ptighe@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net

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