- Outrage as Air Force base in South Carolina boots Nativity scene
- Israel poised for a $173M boost from the U.S. for missile defense
- Leon Panetta named as source of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ scriptwriter’s information
- Mandela service sign language interpreter: ‘He made up his own signs’
- Pope Francis named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’
- Ben Affleck: Fundraising for Democrats started to ‘feel gross’
- Vladimir Putin orders military to boost presence in Arctic
- Brooklyn, N.Y.: ‘Lesbian capital’ of the Northeast
- Elian Gonzalez: It’s America’s fault that my mother died
- India top court rules homosexuality is illegal
Bellicose North-South rhetoric rises
South’s drills bring threats of ‘sacred’ war
SEOUL | One month after a deadly exchange of artillery fire, the two Koreas ramped up their rhetoric Thursday, with South Korea's president pledging unsparing retaliation if his country is attacked again and a top North Korean official threatening a "sacred" nuclear war if provoked.
South Korean troops, tanks and fighter jets put on a thundering display of force as President Lee Myung-bak visited with soldiers at a base near the border, while North Korea's elite marked a key military anniversary by lashing out at the South for encouraging war.
For both countries, the rallying cries and military maneuvers mainly seemed designed to build support at home. Nevertheless, they raised fears anew of all-out war on a peninsula that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson called a "tinderbox" after returning from a visit to the North Korean capital this week.
The two Koreas and their allies called a truce in 1953 to end three years of devastating war, but violence has flared up from time to time, most recently in the disputed waters off their west coast.
North Korea does not recognize the maritime line drawn by U.N. forces, and the territorial dispute in the Yellow Sea has erupted into deadly naval skirmishes.
In March, a South Korean warship went down in the western waters, killing 46 sailors. A month ago, South Korean live-fire drills in nearby waters triggered a North Korean artillery shower on Yeonpyeong Island that killed four South Koreans, the first attack on a civilian area since the Korean War.
Caught by surprise, Seoul since has beefed up its rules of engagement and has staged military drills, including joint exercises with U.S. troops, meant to remind the North of its superior firepower. The South even carried out provocative artillery drills from Yeonpyeong Island on Monday in a bold dare to the North to retaliate.
On Wednesday, rifle-toting marines ringed a hillside near the border, where a Christian group lit a steel tower dressed up as a twinkling Christmas tree - a structure easily visible from atheist North Korea. Notes left on participants' chairs advised them to take cover and seek shelter if attacked.
The drills continued Thursday, with tanks firing artillery and fighter jets dropping bombs at training grounds in Pocheon, about 20 miles from the North. The boom of cannons echoed throughout the valley, and the hills erupted in smoke during the brief but dramatic exercise.
After days of showing restraint, North Korea condemned the drills as a "grave military provocation." Defense chief Kim Yong Chun said North Korea was prepared to launch a "sacred war" and poised to use its nuclear capabilities to defend itself.
Mr. Kim said in Pyongyang that the military would deal "more devastating physical blows" if its rivals violate North Korean territory by even a millimeter. He also threatened to "wipe out" South Korea and the U.S. if they start a war, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.
North Korea is believed to have enough weaponized plutonium for at least a half-dozen atomic bombs and also has revealed a uranium enrichment program that would give it a second way to make nuclear weapons.
After negotiating for years with its neighbors and the U.S. on dismantling its nuclear program in exchange for aid and concessions, Pyongyang walked away from the talks in 2009.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- More than a quarter million sign up for Obamacare in November
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $10.5 billion loss for taxpayers
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Human interest stories to feed interest, satisfy curiosity and see outside the box.
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
News and views on the Civil War.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow