Seoul: North Korea demanded on Thursday the handover of “terror suspects who plotted to kill leader Kim Jong-un with a biochemical substance", repeating accusations it made last week that US and South Korean spies were behind the plan.
North Korea’s KCNA news agency last week accused the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service of a plot to assassinate its “supreme leadership" with a biochemical weapon.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been high for weeks, driven by concern that North Korea might conduct its sixth nuclear test or test-launch another ballistic missile in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.
“The central prosecutor’s office will ask for the handover of those criminals and prosecute them under the relevant laws," North Korean vice-foreign minister Han Song-ryol told foreign diplomats and reporters in Pyongyang, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.
The CIA and the White House declined to comment on the statement from North Korea’s ministry of state security last week.
The South Korean intelligence service said the charge was “groundless".
Han “declared the principled stand of the... Government to find out all of the terrorist maniacs and mercilessly wipe them out", North Korea’s KCNA news agency said in a report on the briefing.
There was no elaboration in either the Xinhua report or the KCNA report on how many suspects North Korea was seeking, or their origins, but Xinhua said North Korea had vowed to “hunt down to the last one of the suspects in every corner of the earth".
Separately, the CIA said on Wednesday it had established a Korea Mission Centre to “harness the full resources, capabilities and authorities of the agency in addressing the nuclear and ballistic missile threat posed by North Korea".
The centre would gather experienced officers from across the CIA in one entity “to bring their expertise and creativity to bear against the North Korea target", it said. Reuters