Justin McCurry
The Guardian
June 17, 2009

[efoods]North Korea today warned that it would launch a “merciless” attack if provoked by the US and its allies, hours after President Barack Obama described the state’s nuclear and missile programmes as a “grave threat” to the world.

“If the US and its followers infringe upon our republic’s sovereignty even a bit, our military and people will launch a one hundred or one thousandfold retaliation with [a] merciless military strike,” the state-controlled Minju Joson newspaper said.

The newspaper described Obama as a hypocrite for supporting a nuclear-free world while making what it claimed were “frantic efforts” to develop new nuclear weapons at home. “The nuclear programme is not the monopoly of the US,” it said.

Russia, which shares a border with North Korea, quickly responded that any missile heading for Russian airspace would be promptly shot down. “We will see it and shoot it down,” the deputy defence minister, Viktor Popovkin, said, according to Interfax.

The North Korean warning came as reports in Japan and South Korea said the regime could be preparing to test launch two long-range ballistic missiles, possibly in retaliation against sanctions agreed by the UN security council at the weekend.

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