North Korea's military on Monday issued threats saying it had plans to turn "elements" in Seoul into "ashes." A statement by the "special operation action group" said its action "will reduce all... to ashes in three or four minutes..."
MSNBC reports North Korea accused South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak of insulting the North's April anniversary of the birth centennial of the nation's founder Kim Il Sung and threatened to launch a "sacred war."
AFP reports although no actions have been taken, the language and rhetoric from Pyongyang has become increasingly aggressive and analysts are worried a military provocation could follow. A statement by North Korea's official news agency, said: "The special actions of our revolutionary armed forces will start soon to meet the reckless challenge of the group of traitors." The statement said a "special operation action group" of North Korea's military supreme command, had plans to "reduce all... to ashes in three or four minutes...by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style."
According to MSNBC, the latest escalation of rhetoric follows U.N. condemnation of North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket that crashed shortly after it was launched on April 13. The failure of the rocket launch was followed by fears that North Korea may conduct a nuclear test as it did after rocket launches in 2006 and 2009. According to MSNBC, South Korean intelligence officials say recent satellite images show the North has been digging a new tunnel in what could be preparation for a nuclear test
The North Korean authorities say they are targeting what they called, "the Lee Myung-Bak group of traitors, the arch criminals, and the group of rat-like elements including conservative media destroying the mainstay of the fair public opinion." The statement said North Korea "will reduce all...to ashes in three or four minutes...by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style."
AFP reports tens of thousands of North Koreans rallied in Pyongyang on Friday shouting angry slogans and calling for the death of Lee over alleged "insults." Last week, the North accused Lee of "desecrating" the official celebrations marking the 100th anniversary on April 15 of the birth of Pyongyang's founding president Kim Il-Sung. The North took offense at demonstrations in Seoul against North Korean government and comments by Lee and the "conservative" South Korean media that criticized the spending on celebrations in the midst of acute food shortages.
According to Lee, the $850 million North Korea spent on the recent rocket launch could have bought 2.5 million tonnes of corn. The rocket, which the Pyongyang claimed was lifting an Earth surveillance satellite into orbit for agricultural purposes, crashed within minutes of liftoff. Pyongyang attacked Lee for his statements urging the North Korean government to focus on agriculture and improve upon human rights. Pyongyang also expressed concern about the South's unveiling of a new cruise missile that can reach any target in the North.
However, military officials in Seoul have said they have no knowledge of a unit called the "special operation action group" in the North. But AP reports Monday's statement is seen as unusual in promising something soon, and threatening that the "something" would be delivered in "a specific period of time."
According to AP, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk, said: "We urge North Korea to immediately stop this practice. We express deep concern that the North's threats and accusations have worsened inter-Korean ties and heightened tensions."
MSNBC reports some analysts say the belligerent statement is designed only to "unnerve" Seoul. While most analysts think that North Korea is unlikely to launch large-scale military attack on the South, there are speculations that the North could be planning terrorist attacks. The analysts say they believe the North may follow up on its threat by launching a terrorist attack.
AFP reports that Cheong Seong-Chang of South Korea's Sejong Institute think-thank, said: "The easiest option will be cyber terror...but we may have to guard against actual terrorist actions. This time, I think there's a high possibility that the North's words, unlike in the past, will actually lead to specific actions."
But Dr. Cheon Seong -Whun of the Korean Institute of National Unification said he "wouldn’t be surprised if the North takes some military actions against the South soon given the concrete words announced by the North. I believe the North’s statements have passed the rhetoric stage."
Another analyst, Baek Seung-Joo, of South Korea's Institute of Defense Analyses, agreed with Cheon Seong-Whun,saying "bad signs" have been observed across the border. He said: "I'm worried about military provocations by North Korea."
However, the South Korean Defense Ministry has said no special military movements have been observed in the North following the threat