AFP. 1 February 2002. North Korea says US carried out invasion
reconnaissance flights; Bush renews attack on "axis of evil" sparking
anger in North Korea.

SEOUL and WASHINGTON -- North Korea on Friday claimed that the United
States had carried out intensive aerial reconnaissance over the
communist state and air drills in preparations for attacks.

"After pinpointing us as the next target for attacks, the United States
conducted aerial reconnaissance and aerial war excercises aimed at us
with a view to invading us at a time of its own choice," North Korea's
Central Broadcasting Station said.

It quoted North Korean miltiary sources as saying that US spy planes
conducted some 150 aerial reconnaissance missions last month alone.

A US U-2 reconnaissance aircraft flew repeatedly between South Korea's
east and west coasts on Monday and a US EP-3 spy plane surveyed North
Korea's west coast, according to the broadcast.

An E-3 AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) plane flew "invasion
support exercises" on January 8, 15 and 30 over southern cities
including Gwangju, Gongju and Chungju, it said.

The United States also conducted a logistics exercise on January 22,
which it said was aimed at "deploying troops and equipment from overseas
bases to South Korea in emergency situations."

"This exercise is absolutly aimed at invading us," it said.

A US Forces in Korea spokesman declined to comment on the report. "We
don't discuss matters related to military operations," he said.

North Korea angrily reacted after US President George W. Bush called
North Korea, Iran and Iraq as an "axis of evil" and warned it against
developing weapons of mass destruction.

Pyongyang said on Friday that the US president's remarks are a "virtual
declaration of war."

The foreign ministry in Pyongyang said the isolated communist state was
ready for war and had been wise to develop "powerful offensive and
defensive means".

"We are sharply watching the disturbing moves of the United States that
has pushed the situation to the brink of war," a foreign ministry
spokesman said, quoted by the Korean Central News Agency.

The spokesman said Bush's speech was "little short of declaring a war."

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Barry Stoller

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