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North Korea warns US of massive retaliation

NORTH Korea warned yesterday of a "thousand-fold" military retaliation against the United States and its allies if provoked, the latest threat in defense of its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Japanese and South Korean news reports said North Korea is preparing an additional site for test-firing a long-range missile that experts say could be capable of striking the US.

Russia's deputy defense minister reportedly said it would shoot down any missile headed its way.

The warning of a military strike, carried by North Korea's state media, came hours after US President Barack Obama declared North Korea a "grave threat" to the world and pledged that recent UN sanctions on the country will be aggressively enforced.

Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met in Washington on Tuesday for a landmark summit in which the two leaders agreed to build a regional and global "strategic alliance" to persuade North Korea to dismantle all its nuclear weapons.

North Korea claims its nuclear bombs are a deterrent against the US and accuses Washington of plotting with South Korea to topple its government led by Kim Jong Il, who is reportedly preparing to hand over power to his 26-year-old youngest son.

"If the US and its followers infringe upon our republic's sovereignty even a bit, our military and people will launch a one hundred- or one thousand-fold retaliation with merciless military strike," the government-run Minju Joson newspaper said in a commentary.

The commentary, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, also called Obama "a hypocrite" for advocating a nuclear-free world while making "frantic efforts" to develop new nuclear weapons at home.

"The nuclear program is not the monopoly of the US," it said.

Attention has been focused on North Korea since it conducted a nuclear test, its second, on May 25. The UN Security Council responded by toughening an arms embargo, authorizing ship searches for nuclear and ballistic missile cargo and depriving North Korea of the financing used to build its nuclear program.

Japan's Sankei newspaper said yesterday that North Korea has been showing signs of preparing two sites - Dongchang-ni on the northwest coast and Musudan-ni on the northeast coast - that could be used to launch a long-range missile.

In Moscow, the Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Defense Minister Viktor Popovkin as saying that if a North Korean missile comes toward Russia "we will see it and shoot it down."



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