As North Korea increasingly threatens the West with nuclear weapons, world leaders remain obsessed with urging Israel to exercise “restraint” in the face of rising Palestinian terror in Jerusalem.
North Korea said Tuesday it has restarted its atomic bomb fuel production plants, a move that pushes Pyongyang closer to a standoff with Washington and its allies.
The secretive state said it is fully ready to use nuclear weapons against the United States “and other hostile forces” at any time if they “persistently seek their reckless hostile policy towards the (North) and behave mischievously.”
The North said in state media that its plutonium and highly enriched uranium facilities at the main Nyongbyon nuclear complex had been “rearranged, changed or readjusted and they started normal operation.”
The announcement follows a warning Monday by Pyongyang that it is ready to launch “satellites” — which the West considers banned long-range missiles — aboard long-range rockets to mark the ruling communist party’s anniversary next month.
The 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party is Oct. 10.
The director of North Korea’s National Aerospace Development Administration told Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency that scientists were pushing forward on a final development phase for a new earth observation satellite for weather forecasts.
On Tuesday, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said a rocket launch will be a “serious provocation,” a military threat and a violation of United Nations resolutions, Yonhap reported.
“South Korea and the United States are jointly watching for all possibilities with regard to North Korea’s (potential) long-range missile launch,” said the ministry’s spokesman, Kim Min-seok, according to the news agency. “So far, no particular signs have been seen.”
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “North Korea should refrain from irresponsible provocation that aggravate regional tensions.”
The US and other nations will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state, he said. “We urge North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that threaten regional peace and security. And focus instead on fulfilling it’s international obligations and commitments.”
There have been no statements thus far by the EU or the UN regarding North Korea’s threatening statements this week in which it confirmed that the nuclear reactor, which is considered the country’s main source of weapons-grade plutonium, had resumed normal operations.
Meanwhile, reacting to the current upsurge in Arab violence throughout Jerusalem, particularly on the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – the US State Department on Monday said it was “deeply concerned.” The statement failed to decipher between Palestinian aggression and Israeli measures of self-defense.
“It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric and preserve unchanged the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif Temple Mount, in word and in practice,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
A 64-year-old Israeli civilian, a victim of rock-throwing terror, succumbed to his wounds on Monday morning. Palestinian violence and terror has been increasing steadily in recent months.
Palestinians rioted for three consecutive days on the Temple Mount, clashing with security forces and then retreating to their mosques, from where they threw rocks, debris, firecrackers and other weapons they had stockpiled, indicating that the incidents were not an instantaneous outburst of fervor, but a well-planned acts of violence.
“For the third straight day Arabs rioted and attempted to attack police and visitors when visiting hours for non-Muslims began in the morning,” said Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld stated on Tuesday. “Police used non-lethal stun grenades to disperse the rioters, who fled into Al-Aksa Mosque, which police did not enter.”
Last week, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon signed an order outlawing Hamas-affiliated Muslim organizations that plan anti-Jewish provocations on the Temple Mount, acting upon the recommendation of the Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) and Israel Police, having been convinced that the step was necessary in order to defend the security of the state and public order.
The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday strongly condemned Israel for allowing Jewish “extremists” to “storm” the Temple Mount and for imposing restrictions on Muslim worshipers.
The European Union (EU) called on “all parties” to “demonstrate calm and restraint and full respect for the status quo of the holy sites.”
Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, blamed Israel for the unrest, claiming that Netanyahu “is trying to push us to the cycle of violence, extremism, bloodshed and chaos.”
King Abdullah of Jordan, who is officially responsible for the Temple Mount, condemned Israel for what he described as acts of aggression. He issued a statement ahead of a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, saying that “any more provocations in Jerusalem will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel, and Jordan will have no choice but to take action, unfortunately.”
Turkish President Recep Erdogan called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to reprimand Israel for “violating the mosque’s sanctity,” while Ban himself expressed “concern” over the incidents.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon rejected the allegations against the Jewish state, adding that the recent skirmishes are “an attempt by Palestinians to change the status quo in a violent way.”
At an emergency meeting convened Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israel “will use all necessary measures to fight against those who throw stones, firebombs, pipe bombs and fireworks in order to attack civilians and police….
“On the eve of the [Rosh Hashana] holiday it was again proven that throwing stones can kill,” he said.”Such actions will be met with very sharp punitive and preventive responses. We will lead systemic changes and will set a new standard of deterrence and prevention.”
By: AP and United with Israel
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