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Planes on alert after US spy plane shot down had weapons 20 times size of Hiroshima bomb

Chris McGreal in Washington,
The Guardian/UK, July 7, 2010

Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon is believed to have ordered nuclear bombers to be put on standby for an immediate strike on North Korea. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

It is more than 35 years since he was shunted out of office, but the thought of Richard Nixon‘s finger on the nuclear trigger still has the power to terrify.

Now it has been revealed that the highly erratic president’s metaphorical digit was hovering even closer than was widely realised as his administration laid plans for an atomic strike against North Korea in 1969 following the shooting down of a US spy plane.

According to newly revealed government documents, Nixon is even believed to have ordered nuclear bombers to be put on standby for an immediate strike after North Korean jets downed the American plane as it flew over international waters collecting electronic and radio intelligence.

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North Korea Threatens To Wipe Out The U.S. “Once And For All”

HYUNG-JIN KIM | June 24, 2009 11:45 AM EST | AP

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea accused Washington of seeking to “provoke a second Korean War” as the regime prepared to hold maritime military exercises off the eastern coast.

U.S. and regional authorities were watching closely for signs that North Korea might fire short- or mid-range missiles during the June 25 to July 10 timeframe cited in a no-sail ban for military drills sent to Japan’s Coast Guard.

North Korea had warned previously it would fire a long-range missile as a response to U.N. Security Council condemnation of an April rocket launch seen as a cover for its ballistic missile technology.

An underground nuclear test last month drew more Security Council action: a resolution seeking to clamp down on North Korea’s trading of banned arms and weapons-related material by requiring U.N. member states to request inspections of ships carrying suspected cargo.

In a first test of the new resolution, a North Korean ship suspected of transporting illicit weapons was sailing off China’s coast with a U.S. destroyer close behind.

The Kang Nam, which left the North Korean port of Nampo a week ago, is believed bound for Myanmar, South Korean and U.S. officials said.

A senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was unable to discuss intelligence on the vessel, said Wednesday that the ship had already cleared the Taiwan Strait.

He said he didn’t know how much range the Kang Nam has _ that is, whether or when it may need to stop in some port to refuel _ but that the Kang Nam has in the past stopped in Hong Kong’s port.

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