NKorea vows to retaliate sanctions

SEOUL: North Korea's defence minister promised to retaliation against tough new UN sanctions put in place following its missile and nuclear tests, state media reported Sunday.

Kim Yong-Chun warned that "a touch-and-go situation" was caused by what he called reckless sanctions and US-South Korean military provocations, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

"We will mercilessly and resolutely counter the enemy's 'sanctions' with retaliation, its 'all-out war' with all-out war," Kim, minister of the People's Armed Forces, said in a report carried by the agency.

The communist state, however, regularly issues aggressive statements and rhetoric against its neighbours and the US.

Kim, speaking at a public meeting in Pyongyang to mark the anniversary of the 1950-1953 Korean War, added: "We will deal unimaginably deadly blows at the U.S imperialists and the South Korean puppets if they ignite a war." He did not, however, elaborate further.

North Korea on Sunday separately denounced an annual upcoming US-South Korean military exercise as preparing to invade the communist country.

The Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) drill, scheduled for August 17-27, "lays bare the black-hearted aim lurking behind 'peace keeping' and 'dialogue'", KCNA said in a separate dispatch.

Tensions have intensified following the communist state's missile and nuclear tests in recent weeks, resulting in a new flurry of UN sanctions amid a renewed standoff with the US.

Pyongyang quit the six-party talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programme after the UN Security Council censured it for a long-range rocket launch in April. In May it also staged its second nuclear test.

The Council has since imposed tougher sanctions, including an expanded arms embargo and beefed up inspections of air, sea and land shipments going to and from North Korea. A travel ban has also been imposed on Pyongyang officials suspected of being involved in the country's nuclear and missile programmes.

The United States has urged the international community to continue to pressure North Korea to return to the six-party talks -- made up of the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia.

North Korea's UN envoy, Sin Son Ho, said Friday Pyongyang was not opposed to negotiations with the US but would not return to the talks.

US and South Korean military authorities said last week they had informed North Korea of their plan to hold the joint military drill, which will involve 10,000 US soldiers and an unspecified number of South Korean troops.

The drill involves computer-simulated war games designed to improve the allies' ability to defend South Korea from attack, they said.

North Korea regularly denounces such exercises as preparations for an invasion of the communist state. jkw/aad NKorea-US-SKorea-military AFP 260844 GMT JUL 09.