North Korea issues military threat

North calls Obama a "hypocrite" amid rush to withdraw money before sanctions bite.

    North and South Korean militaries continue to be on alert amid rising tensions in the region [AFP]

    "The nuclear programme is not the monopoly of only the US," it said.

    Rodong Sinmun, another state-owned newspaper, accused the US of deploying new weapons in South Korea and other neighbouring countries to invade the North.

    "The acute situation on the Korean peninsula is calling on our military and people to further bolster our war deterrence with the high-profile national awakening," said the Rodong Sinmun commentary, also carried by KCNA.

    International pressure continues to mount on the North Korean leadership since it conducted a nuclear test - its second - on May 25 in defiance of the United Nations.

    The UN Security Council responded by toughening an arms embargo against North Korea and authorising ship searches in an attempt to thwart its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

    The UN has also imposed financial sanctions on the country, further isolating an already impoverished nation.

    Rapid withdrawal

    In response, North Korea is rushing to withdraw money from its overseas bank accounts, South Korean media reports suggest.

    The South's Dong-A Ilbo newspaper, quoting sources in Beijing, said the North had begun withdrawing funds from accounts in Macau and elsewhere for fear they would be frozen.

    The paper said funds were being pulled out of almost all the communist state's foreign accounts held either by individuals or trading firms.

    United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874 passed last Friday calls on UN
    member states to expand sanctions first imposed on the North after its initial nuclear test in 2006.

    Last week, before the resolution was passed, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper said Seoul had given Washington details of at least 10 bank accounts held by North Koreans in China, Switzerland and  elsewhere.

    It said the accounts were suspected of being used for  transactions related to counterfeiting, drug-dealing and money-laundering.

    In 2005, the US Treasury Department blacklisted Macau's Banco Delta Asia (BDA) on suspicion of money-laundering and handling North Korea's counterfeit notes.

    The move effectively froze Pyongyang's access to some $25m in BDA and led other nations to cut off financial dealings with the North.

    The US freed the BDA funds in 2007 amid progress on a six-nation nuclear disarmament pact, which has now effectively collapsed.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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