February 27, 2011 / 2:40 AM / 7 years ago

North Korea threatens military action over South's campaign

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea will fire across a land border with South Korea if Seoul continues its anti-North psychological campaign, the North’s official media said on Sunday ahead of an annual, joint military drill between the United States and South Korea.

South Korea’s military has been dropping leaflets into North Korea about democracy protests in Egypt and Libya in a bid to encourage North Koreans to think about change, although analysts remain skeptical that the move would prompt residents in the isolated state to rise up to similar protests.

“The on-going psychological warfare by the puppet military in the frontline area is a treacherous deed and a wanton challenge to the demand of the times and desire of all the fellow countrymen to bring about a new phase of peaceful reunification and national prosperity through all-round dialogue and negotiations,” KCNA news agency said.

“We officially notify that our army will stage a direct fire at the Rimjin Pavilion and other sources of the anti-DPRK psychological warfare to destroy them on the principle of self-defense, if such actions last despite our repeated warning.”

The Rimjin Pavilion is an area in South Korea near the heavily armed Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) which separates the two Koreas. DPRK is North Korea’s official name, standing for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea will also be on a heightened state of alert for possible provocation during the joint military drill between the United States and South Korea which starts on Monday, KCNA said.

North Korea will respond to the planned military drills with “all-out war” if there is any provocation, it added.

“If the aggressors launch provocation for a ”local war“ the world will witness unprecedented all-out counteraction on the part of the army and people of the DPRK,” KCNA said, adding that it could use its nuclear capability as needed.

Pyongyang has often raised the rhetoric and has wielded its nuclear capability threat in the past, but analysts do not expect it to launch a nuclear device.

“North Korea reacts very sensitively as it thinks the power of psychological leaflets is bigger than that of a nuclear bombing,” a South Korea’s news agency Yonhap quoted a local analyst as saying.

ANNUAL JOINT MILITARY DRILLS

Tensions on the divided peninsula rose to the highest level in years after 46 sailors were killed in an attack in March on a South Korean naval vessel. North Korea, which has denied responsibility, shelled the southern island of Yeonpyeong in November, killing four people.

But the two sides have since renewed a dialogue aimed at easing relations.

Their first attempt at talks broke down earlier in February dealing a setback to plans to resume international disarmament talks with the North.

North Korea has said it wants to return to the broader six-party aid-for-disarmament talks, but Seoul and Washington have questioned its sincerity about denuclearizing -- pointing to its revelations in November about a uranium-enrichment program.

While the two Koreas are not talking, analysts have said that the risk of what both sides call a “provocation” increases, and acts of brinkmanship by the North could include military drills or attack, or the testing of a missile or nuclear device.

The South’s Yonhap news agency said a week ago that North Korea was digging tunnels at a site where it has launched two nuclear tests, suggesting it is preparing a third.

Editing by Sugita Katyal and Yoko Nishikawa

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