PYONGYANG/BEIJING, March 9 (AP) - (Kyodo)—North Korea warned Monday that any move to intercept what it calls a satellite launch and what other countries suspect may be a missile test-firing would result in a counterstrike against the countries trying to stop it.
"We will retaliate (over) any act of intercepting our satellite for peaceful purposes with prompt counterstrikes by the most powerful military means," the official Korean Central News Agency quoted a spokesman of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army as saying.
If countries such as the United States, Japan or South Korea try to intercept the launch, the North Korean military will carry out "a just retaliatory strike operation not only against all the interceptor means involved but against the strongholds" of the countries, it said.
"Shooting our satellite for peaceful purposes will precisely mean a war," it added.
North Korea earlier announced it is preparing to put a communications satellite into space, but outside observers suspect it may in fact be a test-firing of a long-range ballistic missile.
The United States, Japan and South Korea have said that even if Pyongyang calls the launch a missile test, it would violate existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The same North Korean statement said the country's military will cut off communications with its South Korean counterparts during the U.S.- South Korean exercises for the duration of the exercises beginning Monday.
A separate, more rare statement by the KPA's Supreme Command was quoted by the KCNA as saying that its soldiers are under orders to be "fully combat-ready" during U.S.-South Korean military exercises beginning Monday.
The North's armed forces have been ordered to "deal merciless retaliatory blows" should there be any intrusion "into the sky and land and seas of the DPRK even an inch."
North Korea has demanded a stop to this month's U.S.-South Korean exercises, and said earlier it cannot guarantee the security of South Korean civilian airplanes flying through its territorial airspace while they are under way.
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Monday, March 09, 2009
N. Korea warns intercepting 'satellite' will prompt counterstrike+
Labels: missile launch, North Korea, satellite launch