North slams use of its flag
in US-S. Korea war games

SEOUL - North Korea has denounced the use of its national flag as a target during US-South Korean war games as a “grave provocative act” and vowed to strengthen its nuclear deterrent.

By (AFP)

Published: Mon 25 Jun 2012, 9:46 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 11:45 AM

South Korea said the flag was used for the first time in such an exercise to demonstrate determination to hit back at any cross-border aggression.

Some 2,000 South Korean and US troops along with jet fighters, tanks and attack helicopters took part in Friday’s exercise to test responses to any assault, amid high tensions on the peninsula.

The allies’ largest single-day joint live-fire exercise was timed to mark the 62nd anniversary of the start of the Korean War on June 25. The two sides are also staging a major three-day naval drill in the Yellow Sea involving a US aircraft carrier battle group.

It was unclear whether the flag was hit during the drill.

But the North’s foreign ministry said late on Sunday the use of its emblem was the “most vivid expression” of US hostility.

“It is an extremely grave military action and politically-motivated provocation to fire live bullets and shells at the flag of a sovereign state without a declaration of war,” it said in a statement on official media.

The South’s defence ministry said the flag symbolised the North’s command post and was used for the first time in such live-fire drills. “We used it to show our determination to strongly respond to any provocations by North Korea,” a spokesman told. Tensions spiked in 2010 after the South accused the North of sinking one of its warships with the loss of 46 lives. The North denied that attack but shelled a South Korean border island in November 2010, killing four people. Two months ago the North launched a long-range rocket in what was seen by the United States and its allies as a ballistic missile test.

The United Nations condemned the failed launch and tightened sanctions.

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