By SOFIA PETKAR
The anniversary has led to increased concerns the regime is planning another test to fire another intercontinental ballistic missile, believed to be capable of reaching the US mainland.
With tensions escalating, it is feared North Korea could turn on neighbouring South Korea, following warnings from Kim Jong-un’s regime that it is ready to strike “without warning or prior notice”.
North Korea is notorious for marking key events in its history with missile launches or similar acts of aggression.
The most recent warning was issued by one of Kim Jong-un’s key generals, who called on the North Korean military to “wage dynamic struggle to bring final victory” on July 27.
Pak Yong-sik, the minister of North Korea’s armed forces, carried on the threats and called for a nuclear strike on the United States – even if Washington does not attack first.
He said: “If enemies misunderstand our strategic status and stick to options of staging a pre-emptive nuclear attack against us, we will launch a nuclear attack on America’s heart as the most relentless punishment without warning or prior notice.”
Kusong has been the site of North Korean missile tests in the past, including one held in May.
That test saw a KN-17 intermediate range missile travel almost 500 miles before splashing down in the Sea of Japan/East Sea, hitting the water about 60 miles from Vladivostok in eastern Russia, according to US officials.
Last week CIA director Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration needed to find a way to separate Kim Jong-un from his growing nuclear stockpile.
Mr Pompeo said: “As for the regime, I am hopeful we will find a way to separate that regime from this system.
“The North Korean people I’m sure are lovely people and would love to see him go.”
North Korean state media Korean Central News Agency hit back, with a spokesman from the North Korean Foreign Ministry, saying: “The DPRK legally stipulates that if the supreme dignity of the DPRK is threatened, it must preemptively annihilate those countries and entities that are directly or indirectly involved in it, by mobilising all kinds of strike means including the nuclear ones.
“Should the US dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the US with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time.”
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