World Bulletin / News Desk
The inter-Korean exchange was provoked by last Friday’s announcement by Seoul and the United States that they plan to deploy America’s powerful THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system in the South by the end of next year.
The statement followed months of intense rumors and negotiations, during which China and Russia emphasized their opposition to the move.
Given THAAD’s purported ability to defend against the North’s fast developing missile capabilities, South Korean President Park Geun-hye attempted to justify the decision Monday by highlighting her obligation to protect her country.
Speaking during a government meeting covered by local news agency Yonhap, Park also sent a message to Beijing and Moscow when insisting that the incoming missile defense system “will not target any country other than North Korea, and will not encroach upon the security interests of any third country”.
Earlier in the day, the North released a military statement via Pyongyang’s official KCNA media outlet.
“We once again warn the enemies that it is the steadfast will of the Korean People's Army (KPA) to make merciless retaliatory strikes to reduce South Korea to a sea of flames and debris once an order is issued,” the dispatch warned.
North Korea had already raised tensions over the weekend by attempting to test a submarine-launched ballistic missile -- despite already operating under toughened United Nations sanctions for its continued development of weapons of mass destruction.
Seoul’s defense ministry urged Pyongyang to examine its own behavior if it seeks to assign blame for the pending arrival of THAAD on the peninsula.
“If North Korea continues its groundless claims and rash actions in defiance of our warnings, it will have to face our military's stringent retaliation,” a ministry spokesperson told reporters.