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North Korea puts U.S., South Korea forces on highest alert

Kim Jong Un had called on his scientists to improve upon its “successful” hydrogen bomb.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Jan. 11, 2016 at 1:18 PM
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SEOUL, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- North Korea is likely to engage in additional provocations, top U.S. and South Korea military commanders said Monday.

Both U.S. and South Korea forces were placed on the highest alert level Monday, and Seoul said new restrictions are to be introduced at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a joint North-South factory park in North Korea, South Korean television network SBS reported.

Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of U.S. forces in Korea and Lee Soon-jin, chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told combined U.S.-South Korea forces to stand ready, Yonhap reported.

"I want you to maintain the highest-level readiness position with a long-term view because planned joint military exercises are ahead," Scaparrotti said.

Lee, who was conducting a joint inspection of air force units, said there is a "very high likelihood" North Korea would undertake more provocative acts, and precautions are necessary.

"The South Korean military should muster all its efforts to stand with full-combat readiness so they can deter further provocations by North Korea and maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula," Lee said Monday.

Bloomberg reported Kim Jong Un had called on his scientists to improve upon its "successful" hydrogen bomb. Kim said he expected his nuclear weapons team to advance their research, according to KCNA.

Seoul is taking measures to protect its citizens north of the Korean demilitarized zone in Kaesong, where about 800 South Koreans are located in an industrial park that employs North Korean factory workers.

Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee told reporters the number of personnel would be reduced to 650.

North Korea has condemned the deployment of a U.S. B-52 bomber in South Korea airspace and the resumption of South Korea loudspeaker broadcasts.

Pyongyang has retaliated with its own loudspeaker messages that include denouncements of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Though barely audible from the South, North Korea's broadcasts included anti-South segments as well as praise of Kim Jong Un.

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