North Korea vows "annihilating strike" if attacked
SEOUL, July 3 (Reuters) North Korea ratcheted up the rhetoric in its war of words with Washington by promising an ''annihilating strike'' with its nuclear deterrent should the United States launch an attack, its media said today.
Over the weekend, North Korea said it would bolster its deterrent in response to a US threat, marking the first time it has so specifically mentioned the subject since a crisis began over its suspected plans to test-fire a long-range missile.
''The army and people of the DPRK are now in full preparedness to answer a pre-emptive attack with a relentless annihilating strike and a nuclear war with a mighty nuclear deterrent,'' its communist party newspaper said today.
DPRK is short for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The report carried on the KCNA news agency said the US had increased tension by bringing new spy planes to the peninsula.
North Korea said in February 2005 it possessed nuclear weapons.
It has threatened to build up its nuclear arsenal several times since then in response to what it perceived as increased US threats.
US officials have said North Korea is preparing to test a long-range ballistic missile that some experts say could reach parts of the United States.
REUTERS SHR ND1540