Thursday, April 24, 2014
The Associated Press
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In an April 2012 photo, a North Korean vehicle carries what appears to be a new missile in a military parade in Pyongyang. North Korea has moved a missile with "considerable range" to its east coast, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said Thursday, but he added there are no signs Pyongyang is preparing for a full-scale conflict. The report came hours after North Korea's military warned that it has been authorized to attack the U.S. using "smaller, lighter and diversified" nuclear weapons.
The Associated Press
HACKERS GO ON OFFENSIVE AGAINST NORTH KOREAN SITES
SEOUL, South Korea — Hackers apparently broke into at least two of North Korea’s government-run online sites Thursday, as tensions rose on the Korean Peninsula.
The North’s Uriminzokkiri Twitter and Flickr accounts stopped sending out content typical of that posted by the regime in Pyongyang, such as photos of North’s leader Kim Jong Un meeting with military officials.
Instead, a picture posted Thursday on the North’s Flickr site shows Kim’s face with a pig-like snout and a drawing of Mickey Mouse on his chest. Underneath, the text reads: “Threatening world peace with ICBMs and Nuclear weapons/Wasting money while his people starve to death.”
Another posting says “We are Anonymous” in white letters against a black background. Anonymous is a name of a hacker activist group. A statement purporting to come from the attackers and widely circulated online said that they had compromised 15,000 user records hosted on Uriminzokkiri.com and other websites. The authenticity of the statement couldn’t be confirmed, but the North’s official website did not open Thursday.
Tweets on the North’s Twitter account said “Hacked” followed by a link to North Korea-related websites. One tweet said “Tango Down” followed by a link to the North’s Flickr page.
North Korea opened its Twitter account in 2010. It has more than 13,000 followers. The North uses the social media to praise its system and leaders and also to repeat commentaries sent out by North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
– The Associated Press
"(North Korea's recent threats) are rhetorical threats. I believe the odds of a full-scale provocation are small," he said. But he added that North Korea might mount a small-scale provocation such as its 2010 shelling of a South Korean island, an attack that killed four people.
At times, North Korea has gone beyond rhetoric.
On Tuesday, it announced it would restart a plutonium reactor it had shut down in 2007. A U.S. research institute said Wednesday that satellite imagery shows that construction needed for the restart has already begun.
For a second day Thursday, North Korean border authorities denied entry to South Koreans who manage jointly run factories in the North Korean city of Kaesong. South Koreans already at the plant were being allowed to return home.
South Korea has prepared a military contingency plan should North Korea hold South Korean workers hostage in Kaesong, Defense Minister Kim said. He wouldn't elaborate.
Outraged over comments in the South about possible hostage-taking and a military response from Seoul, a North Korean government-run committee threatened to pull North Korean workers out of Kaesong as well.
The parading of U.S. air and naval power within view of the Korean peninsula — first a few long-range bombers, then stealth fighters, then ships — is as much about psychological war as real war. The U.S. wants to discourage North Korea's young leader from starting a fight that could escalate to renewed war with South Korea.
North Korea's military statement Thursday, from an unidentified spokesman from the General Bureau of the Korean People's Army, said its troops had been authorized to counter U.S. "aggression" with "powerful practical military counteractions," including nuclear weapons.
It said America's "hostile policy" and "nuclear threat" against North Korea "will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means."
White House spokesman Jay Carney has called on Russia and China, two countries he said have influence on North Korea, to use that influence to persuade the North to change course.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich criticized a move by the North Korean parliament this week to declare the country in effect a nuclear weapons state.
"It's categorically unacceptable to see such defiant neglect by Pyongyang of U.N. Security Council resolutions and fundamental regulations in the area of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," he said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also had sharp words for the North.
"Nuclear threat is not a game," Ban said Thursday in Madrid. "It's very serious and I think they have gone too far in the rhetoric. I am concerned that if by any misjudgment, by any miscalculation of the situation, a crisis happens in the Korean Peninsula. This really would have very serious implications."
South Korea's Defense Ministry said its military is ready to deal with any provocation by North Korea. "I can say we have no problem in crisis management," deputy ministry spokesman Wee Yong-sub told reporters.
On Sunday, Kim Jong Un led a high-level meeting of party officials who declared building the economy and "nuclear armed forces" as the nation's priorities.
North Korea is believed to be working toward building an atomic bomb small enough to mount on a long-range missile. Long-range rocket launches designed to send satellites into space in 2009 and 2012 were widely considered covert tests of missile technology, and North Korea has conducted three underground nuclear tests.
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