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Isle shield called plot to attack


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POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2009

SEOUL » A photo of the North Korean leader shown recently on Pyongyang's state TV appears to be a doctored version of one published in April by the country's official news agency—a possible sign his health is worsening—South Korean media reported yesterday.

A still photo of 67-year-old Kim Jong Il visiting an army unit, shown June 14 on state TV, is nearly identical to an April 25 military group shot of Kim, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper said. The report cited unidentified intelligence officials who said there was a “;a high possibility”; the April image was recycled. Officials at the National Intelligence Service, South Korea's main spy agency; the Unification Ministry, which handles affairs with North Korea; and the president's office said they could not confirm the report.

Also yesterday, the North criticized the United States for positioning missile defense systems around Hawaii, calling the deployment part of a plot to attack the regime. The North said it would bolster its nuclear arsenal in retaliation.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he ordered the deployment of a ground-based, mobile missile intercept system and radar system to Hawaii amid concerns the North might fire a long-range missile toward the islands.

The paper also accused the U.S. of deploying the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and Ohio-class submarines armed with nuclear warheads in the waters near the Korean peninsula, saying the moves prove “;the U.S. pre-emptive nuclear war”; on the North is imminent.