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North Korea

North Korean newspaper claims US hatching plot to invade

Opinion piece came two days after US President Donald Trump cancelled a planned trip to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 August, 2018, 11:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 August, 2018, 11:03pm

North Korea’s main newspaper accused the United States on Sunday of staging military drills to prepare an invasion while at the same time pursuing dialogue with a smile on its face.

Rodong Sinmun, the official mouthpiece of the Workers’ Party of Korea, cited alleged US troop movements in the region which it called “extremely provocative and dangerous” and said they threatened to derail the dialogue between the United States and North Korea.

The US military called the accusation “far-fetched”.

The opinion piece came two days after US President Donald Trump cancelled a planned trip to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing a lack of progress in getting North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons.

The Rodong Sinmun piece did not mention Trump by name, nor the decision to cancel Pompeo’s trip. Media controlled by the Pyongyang regime has been careful not to criticise Trump directly since his June 12 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, reserving its occasional ire for Pompeo and other members of the administration.

But the timing of the piece may be more than coincidence.

Rodong Sinmun cited a South Korean radio broadcast claiming that US “special units” had recently flown to the Philippines, arguing this was a drill simulating “infiltration into Pyongyang”.

It also claimed that the USS Michigan nuclear submarine had transported “Green Berets, Delta Force and other special units” from Okinawa, Japan to the Jinhae naval base in South Korea in late July or early August.

Colonel John Hutcheson, the director of public affairs for US Forces Japan, said he wasn’t sure what drills the piece was referring to.

“US aircraft routinely fly from Japan to the Philippines and other nations around the region for a variety of training and operational reasons, so the notion that any single flight is related to North Korea is a bit far fetched,” he wrote in an email.

Fears arise that suspension of US-South Korea military exercises may have dangerous repercussions

But Rodong Sinmun argued the acts “prove that the US is hatching a criminal plot to unleash a war against the DPRK” in case Washington fails to achieve denuclearisation.

That would be a crime that deserves “merciless divine punishment,” it said.

“We cannot but take a serious note of the double-dealing attitudes of the US as it is busy staging secret drills involving man-killing special units while having a dialogue with a smile on its face,” the opinion piece continued.

“The US would be sadly mistaken if it thinks that it can browbeat someone through trite ‘gunboat diplomacy’ which it used to employ as an almighty weapon in the past and attain its sinister intention.”

Trump announced the suspension of the US military’s annual exercises with South Korea when he met Kim, calling those exercises “provocative”.

In his Friday tweets, Trump put some of the blame on China for the lack of progress with North Korea, tweeting that because of his “tougher trading stance” the Chinese were not “helping with the process of denuclearisation as they once were”.

Beijing said those remarks showed a “total disregard of the facts”.

China protests against Donald Trump’s claim it is holding back North Korean denuclearisation

In a statement released Saturday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China is making “unremitting efforts” to abide by the UN Security Council’s resolutions, and urged all parties to “stick to the direction of seeking a political settlement”.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in convened a meeting of his National Security Council Sunday to discuss the cancellation of Pompeo’s trip.

A spokesman said Moon’s planned trip to Pyongyang in September – his third summit with Kim this year – now took on added significance.

“The circumstances show that President Moon has a bigger role as the facilitator and a mediator unblocking the impasse between North Korea and the US and widening the scope of mutual understanding,” South Korea’s presidential Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-keum told reporters Sunday.