Monday, July 10, 2006

North Korea Ready For 'All-Out War'

Kim Jong-il, silent and hidden since North Korea's multiple missile tests on Wednesday, has apparently broken cover to threaten the US with "retaliation for retaliation, all-out war with all-out war". The reclusive dictator's fighting words against the "US imperialistic aggressors" were quoted in a radio editorial broadcast yesterday by the Korean Central Broadcasting Agency. "Kim announced a heroic DPRK position, in which it promised to answer to an enemy's retaliation with retaliation and to an all-out war with an all-out war," the broadcast said, referringto the nation's official title, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "That is not empty words." Without saying where or when he spoke, KCBA quoted Mr Kim boasting he had "handed out a massive blow to (the Americans) with a declaration that theyshould not hope for any change from me".The Kim statement came as Japan pressed for an early UN Security Council vote on sanctioning North Korea today, hoping to isolate China and, though it seemed unlikely to succeed, to embarrass Beijing into withholding its veto. "To compromise because of one country which has veto power, even though most other countries support us, sends the wrong message," Japanese Foreign Minister Taro said on national television yesterday. "We can't alter our stance." Mr Aso said Japan, a non-permanent Security Council member that formulated the anti-North Korean resolution backed by the US, wanted a vote as quickly as possible and hoped to get one today, New York time. Mr Aso spoke to his counterparts in Beijing and Moscow, which Japanese officials said gave them hope Russia would abstain. The Chinese gave no indication of changing their view that further isolating Pyongyang would be counterproductive, even dangerous.The Security Council has 15 members but a 13-1 vote in favour of Japan's resolution would be lost because China holds one of five permanent-member vetos. But Mr Aso claimed in another interview yesterday that Beijing would not want the embarrassment of being the lone council member opposed to disciplining Pyongyang. "China will be backed into a corner, it's only common sense not to do that." Japan's Chapter 7 resolution is concentrated on sanctioning international assistance to North Korea's weapons of mass destruction programs and WMD exports to other regimes. Japan has imposed trade and travel restrictions, the US is pressuring third nations to clamp down on Pyongyang's foreign banking access and South Korea claims it will suspend aid shipments while the crisis continued. However, senior Chinese officials told visiting Japanese politicians at the weekend they were focusing direct diplomatic pressure on the North. State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan told the MPs that China's "grave view" would be conveyed to Pyongyang during a visit by Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, starting today.It was not known whether China had imposed temporary restrictions on North Korean trade, as it did after the regime's previous long-range missile test, in August 1998. A report from a northern Chinese frontier town of a sharp slowing of trucking across the border is generally thought to be inconclusive. However, China and the US and Japan are not completely at odds over dealing with the North. Assistant Secretary of State and US special envoy on North Korea Christopher Hill has endorsed a Chinese proposal that if the North Koreans returned to six-party talks they have boycotted since November the US would agree to a face-to-face meeting on missiles on the sidelines. Washington has rejected Pyongyang's demands for bilateral negotiations over missiles, or anything else, and yesterday Mr Hill again refused the regime's demand that the US withdraw foreign banking sanctions before it came back to the six-party negotiations.