North Korea has frightening chemical weapons capabilities, Japan PM says

Posted April 18, 2017

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament on Monday (April 17) he approved the United States stance on dealing with North Korea, while the government considers required actions if there is a flow of refugees from the Korean peninsula in case of an escalated conflict.

Abe's comments Thursday to a parliamentary panel on national security and diplomacy come amid looming concern about another missile or nuclear test by the communist country.

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On Friday, US media said that US President Donald Trump might order a strike against North Korea in case Pyongyang chose to carry out another nuclear weapon test.

Huge batteries of conventional artillery, missiles and other weapons are capable of striking Seoul, according to a January report by analysis firm Stratfor. It has a particular resonance with the public in Japan because it was used in a terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway by the doomsday cult group Aum Shinrikyo in 1995. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in Pyongyang, Vice Minister Han Song Ryol also said Pyongyang won't "keep its arms crossed" in the face of a pre-emptive strike by the U.S. Tensions are deepening as the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to waters off the peninsula and is conducting its biggest-ever joint military exercises with South Korea. A USA navy aircraft carrier is heading toward the Korean Peninsula as Pyongyang prepares for the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il Sung this weekend.

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Originally conceived as a pesticide, sarin was used by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime to gas thousands of Kurds in the northern town of Halabja in 1988. New satellite images suggest North Korea might soon conduct another underground detonation.

North Korea has launched several missile tests this year, the latest on April 5 when it fired a ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast.

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Abe cited Syria, where dozens of people died recently in an alleged sarin nerve gas attack, as an example that Japan should take seriously, stressing the need to strengthen its deterrence against the North. Trump added to the growing war of words with a tweet on Tuesday that said the North is "looking for trouble".