PYONGYANG, February 20 (Itar-Tass) — North Korea is “prepared for a local conflict and large-scale war,” the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement released by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Monday.
It notes that the decision of the United States and South Korea to conduct naval exercises with firing practice in the area of five islands in the West Sea (Yellow Sea) on Monday is regarded by Pyongyang as “playing with fire” and “declaration of war.” Using these manoeuvres, in the view of the Committee, South Korea seeks to “keep the illegally established ‘northern limit line’ and extremely aggravate the situation on the Korean Peninsula.” At the same time, according to the statement, Washington and Seoul have decided to stage another “serious military provocation at a time when the DPRK people are still grieving” over the country’s leader Kim Jong Il who died last December.
The Committee warned that if the South Korean “warmongers” will still conduct exercises, despite warnings from the DPRK, “they will not escape punishment thousands-fold severer than the past Yeonpyeong Island shelling (by the North Korean artillery) in the West Sea on November 23, 2010.
On Sunday, the command of the western sector of the front sent to South Korea a notification, which warned that North Korea would “inflict merciless retaliatory blows” if South Korea violates the territorial waters of the People’s Republic during the manoeuvres. The North’s notification recommends the civilians who are currently staying on the five islands to evacuate to safe areas.
At the end of the Korean War of 1950-1953, the United Nations Command, represented by the United States and its allies, hastily set the so-called northern limit line in the West Sea. However, the DPRK has never recognised this sea boundary that was drawn without any mutual approval, and insisted on its moving south to the military demarcation line dividing the Korean Peninsula into two states. The United States and South Korea disregarded this demand. As a result, five islands in the West Sea for many years have remained a hotbed of tensions between the North and South.