North Korea threatens nuclear ‘holy war’ with South
Jonathan Watts in Beijing

Tensions on the Korean pensinsula were at their most dangerous level since the 1950-53 war today when North Korea threatened to usenuclear weapons in a “holy war” against its neighbour after South Korean tanks, jets and artillery carried out one of the largest live-fire drills in history close to the border.

The military exercise at Pocheon, just south of the demilitarized zone, was the third such show of force this week by South Korea. Multiple rocket-launchers, dozens of tanks and hundreds of troops joined the drills, which the South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, insisted was necessary for self-defence, following two deadly attacks this year. Last month, two civilians and two marines were killed by a North Korean barrage on Yeonpyeong island following a live-fire drill in disputed territory. In March, 46 sailors died when the South Korean naval ship, Cheonan, was sunk, apparently by an enemy torpedo.

“We had believed patience would ensure peace on this land, but that was not the case,” Lee told troops today. He earlier warned that he was ready to order a “merciless counterattack” if further provoked.

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