World News

N. Korea Puts Troops on Alert over Planned US-Led Military Drill

North Korea has placed its military on alert and warned of "disastrous consequences" in response to a planned U.S.-led military drill near the Korean peninsula.

A North Korean military spokesman told state media all troops have been ordered to "keep themselves ready to promptly launch operations at any time."

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok confirmed North Korea's military has been placed on high alert.



"Our armed forces are closely monitoring the North Korean military's movements and are fully prepared to take a decisive action against the North's possible provocations."



The North Korean threat comes as U.S. warships deployed to the South Korean port of Busan for what officials describe as a routine search and rescue drill with the South Korean and Japanese navies.

North Korea appears particularly upset about the participation of the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published a report claiming the ship was carrying "at least 100 nuclear bombs aboard." It said the closer U.S. forces get to North Korea, "the more unpredictable disasters their actions will cause."

Pyongyang often threatens military action in response to the U.S.-South Korean drills, but rarely follows through.



The three-day trilateral exercise off Busan was due to start on Tuesday but was postponed due to the passage of a typhoon through the region. No new date was announced.

A South Korean officer quoted by Yonhap said the USS George Washington is on standby after moving from Busan to a safer area to ride out the typhoon.

Leonid Petrov, a Korea analyst at the Australian National University, tells VOA he views the North Korean threats as part of a "seasonal type" of escalation.



"Every time the United States' and the Republic of Korea's naval or aerial exercises take place on the southern side of the peninsula, the North Koreans take it very seriously."



Petrov says North Korea views the drills as preparation to invade, a sentiment he says reflects the ongoing tension surrounding the Korean War.



"The Korean War is technically still going on, and every time the military on one side or the other is beefing up its forward deployed military, the other side reacts and sometimes overreacts."



The North's war-like rhetoric reached a peak not seen in years following international condemnation of its nuclear weapon test in February. At its worst point, North Korea was issuing near-daily threats of nuclear war against the U.S. and its regional allies.

Relations had recently shown signs of improvement, with the two Koreas reaching tentative agreements on resuming a series of cross-border projects, including a symbolic joint factory that had served as a bellwether of Korean ties.

But the KCNA article warned that "the situation on the Korean peninsula is getting strained again." It said this is "entirely attributable" to what it called the "persistent anti-DPRK military confrontation of the U.S. and Japanese aggressors and South Korean puppet forces."

South Korean lawmakers say North Korea also appears to have taken a step toward restarting its nuclear weapons program. The lawmakers said South Korea's National Intelligence Service told them in a closed briefing that the North recently restarted its plutonium reactor at Yongbyon.

North Korea threatened to restart the aging reactor in April but has not confirmed such a move. The reactor could be used to produce nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang had shut down the reactor as part of six-party negotiations on dismantling its nuclear weapons program in return for aid. Those talks have been stalled for years.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs