"The provocative policy of the new U.S. administration is reversing the inter-Korean reconciliation to a state of confrontation," said Kim Yong-chun, chief of the general staff of the People's Army.
"It is the invariable strategy of the United States to stifle the Democratic People's Republic of [North] Korea by means of war and invade and dominate Asia, taking the whole of Korea as a springboard," he said in a speech at a ceremony to mark the 69th founding anniversary of the army.
"If the U.S. war hawks turn to confrontation and war at any cost, the DPRK will make a 1,000-fold retaliation against them," Kim warned. "We are ready to fight back any attempt to violate our sovereign rights and revolutionary achievement even an inch, in order to safeguard out fatherland as an impregnable fortress."
Kim said his penniless country would push ahead with the "army-first" policy.
"The reality proves the validity of the DPRK's army-first policy and the line of attaching importance to the military affairs whereby it has augmented its defense power in confrontation with the U.S. imperialists."
The warning came amid new signs of tension on the divided Korean peninsula triggered by North Korea's boycott of peace talks and reconciliation events with South Korea and fierce propaganda onslaught against the new U.S. administration.
Analysts here said the North's move is a show of its displeasure with the Bush administration, which it believes is taking a harder line toward the communist country that the soft, pro-China Clinton administration. Bush has expressed skepticism about North Korea and said he would not immediately resume talks with Pyongyang.
The North's attacks intensified this week when the United States and South Korea launched a weeklong military exercise. North Korea said the drill was designed to provoke a war against it.
"It proves that the U.S. imperialists' North Korea policy is designed to bring the [North] to its knees by force of arms," its state-run press raged.
The North also has recently staged a fresh campaign for the withdrawal of 37,000 U.S. troops stationed in the South to thwart any possible military attack from North Korea.
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