PYONGYANG, North Korea (CBS News/CBSDC/AP) — A North Korean military official said on Friday that senior party and defense officials led by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Thursday night and “reviewed and approved the final attack operation.”
The move came after Thursday saw the most serious confrontation between the rivals in years. The official gave no details about what kind of military retaliation North Korea would see as appropriate for South Korea’s shelling of its territory on Thursday.
However, Kim Yong Chol, director of the general reconnaissance bureau of the North Korean army, denied Friday that North Korea had fired across the Demilitarized Zone and said South Korea had not offered conclusive evidence of where a rocket would have come from. He suggested South Korea may have made a human error in its assessment of events and that its decision to retaliate was dangerous and rash.
“Skirmishes can lead to all-out war,” Chol said.
South Korea’s defense minister Han Minkoo on Friday warned North Korea that it would face “searing” consequences if it launched fresh provocation.
“This time, we’ll cut off a vicious circle of North Korean provocation,” Minkoo said, adding that Seoul was closely cooperating with the U.S. to deter potential aggression by North Korea.
Early on Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared his frontline troops in a “quasi-state of war,” and ordered them to prepare for battle.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified government source, reported on Friday that South Korean and U.S. surveillance assets detected the movement of vehicles in North Korea carrying short-range Scud and medium-range Rodong missiles in a possible preparation for launches. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it could not confirm the report.