9 Apr 2017

US strike 'intolerable act of aggression' - North Korea

11:15 am on 9 April 2017

An American navy strike group is to be moved toward the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean peninsula.

A handout grab image made on April 8, 2017 from a video made available by the Russian Defence Ministry's press service on the official website of the Russian Defence Ministry shows landing and strips at the Shayrat airbase after it was hit by US missiles on Friday.

A handout grab image from a video made available by the Russian Defence Ministry's press service on the official website of the Russian Defence Ministry shows landing and strips at the Shayrat airbase after it was hit by US missiles on Friday. Photo: AFP PHOTO / RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY

US officials said the Carl Vinson navy strike group, which includes an aircraft carrier, would make its way from Singapore toward the Korean peninsula.

The move comes after the North Korean administration cited an unnamed government spokesman saying Friday's strike was an "intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state".

The strikes followed Wednesday's suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held Syrian town which killed 89.

North Korea has carried out tests to develop a nuclear missile. The UN has banned it from missile or nuclear tests but it has repeatedly broken those sanctions.

It has successfully tested nuclear bombs of increasing power and claims to have been able to make warheads small enough to fit on a missile, but some experts have cast doubt on those claims.

On Friday, US missiles struck a Syrian airbase, killing at least six people. It was the first US attack on a Syrian government facility, although the country had previously targeted the Islamic State group in the region.

"The US missile attack against Syria is a clear and intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn it," a government official in North Korea said, as quoted by the KCNA news agency.

"The reality of today shows that we must stand against power with power and it proves a million times over that our decision to strengthen our nuclear deterrence has been the right choice.

"Only military power of our own will protect us from imperialistic aggression.

"We will keep bolstering our self-defensive military might in various ways in order to cope with the ever-intensifying US acts of aggression."

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke by phone on Saturday about the situation in Syria, the Russian ministry said in a statement.

Mr Lavrov pointed out that "an attack on a country whose government fights terrorism only plays into the hands of extremists, creates additional threats to regional and global security," the Russian ministry said.

He also told Mr Tillerson that assertions that the Syrian military used chemical weapon in Idlib province on 4 April did not correspond to reality, the ministry added.

It said Mr Lavrov and his US counterpart agreed to continue discussions on Syria in person. Mr Tillerson is expected in Moscow for talks with Russian officials next week.

Mr Tillerson is set to visit Moscow as planned after the G7 meeting this week.

UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson called off a visit to Moscow in the wake of the Syrian chemical weapons attack.

He said the situation had "fundamentally" changed and his priority now was to build international support for a ceasefire in Syria.

He said the UK deplores Russia's continued defence of the regime of Bashir al-Assad.

Mr Johnson said Mr Tillerson would be able to deliver a "clear and co-ordinated message to the Russians" after the meeting of the world's leading industrialised nations.

- BBC / Reuters

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