SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea on Sunday accused the United States of plotting a nuclear attack on the communist country and condemned Washington's decision to send additional long-range bombers to Guam.
North Korea claims the Bush administration is planning pre-emptive strikes on its military bases and nuclear facilities, which U.S. officials believe are being used to make atomic bombs.
North Korea's state KCNA news agency said the U.S. Department of Defense mapped out a plan including "not only cruise missile strikes and massive air raids, etc., but the use of tactical nuclear weapons."
The North's "army and people will take every possible self-defensive measure to cope with the U.S. bellicose forces' new war moves," it said.
Tension between Pyongyang and the United States increased last week after North Korean fighter jets intercepted a U.S. reconnaissance plane over the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
U.S. officials believe Pyongyang may be preparing to test fire another missile soon, following the launch of an anti-ship missile off its east coast late last month.
The Pentagon is deploying 12 B-1 and 12 B-52 bombers to Guam, about 2,000 miles from North Korea in case of conflict in the region.
"These moves indicate that the U.S. Air Force is taking the lead in implementing the U.S. imperialists' strategy to mount a pre-emptive attack on (North Korea)," said Pyongyang's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
Washington says it wants to settle the dispute diplomatically, but has not ruled out a military option.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials demanded that Pyongyang dismantle its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon during unofficial talks in Germany last month, a major Japanese daily said Sunday.
U.S. diplomats also called for Pyongyang to allow U.N. monitors to return to verify that it wasn't enriching uranium for its purported nuclear weapons program during the meetings at the North Korean Embassy in Berlin on Feb. 20-21, the Asahi newspaper reported.
North Korea rejected the demands and the meetings ended in disagreement, the paper said, citing an unidentified former U.S. official who attended the meeting. Pyongyang had proposed a visit by U.S. nuclear inspectors, it said.
U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment Sunday.
In Seoul, an opposition lawmaker urged South Korea to stop cash aid to North Korea, claiming the funds were being used to develop nuclear weapons.
Lee Hahn-koo said former President Kim Dae-jung's government provided $3.3 billion over the past five years, including $900 million in cash.
"The North's military would not have been able to achieve its current capacity without the Kim Dae-jung government's financial aid," Lee said in a news release.
The nuclear dispute flared in October when Washington said North Korea admitted pursuing a nuclear program.
Washington and its allies cut off oil shipments to the impoverished communist state. The North retaliated by expelling U.N. monitors, moving to reactivate its frozen nuclear facilities and withdrawing from the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.