North Korea threatens ‘pre-emptive nuclear strike’ over US-South Korea drills

North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong (Reuters / Pierre Albouy)
North Korea’s Foreign Minister said at a United Nations conference that his county would use a pre-emptive strike if necessary to stop “an ever-increasing nuclear threat” from the United States.

The remarks by Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong were made during a speech at the UN Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday. He said the joint military exercises being staged by South Korea and the United States are “unprecedentedly provocative in nature and have an especially high possibility of sparking off a war.

The DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) cannot but bolster its nuclear deterrent capability to cope with the ever-increasing nuclear threat of the US,” he told the Geneva forum, according to Reuters. “Now the DPRK has the power of deterring the US and conducting a pre-emptive strike as well, if necessary.”

His speech drew a rebuke from US Ambassador Robert Wood, who urged Pyongyang to stop making threats and rid itself of nuclear weapons. Wood said the exercises had been held for 40 years and were “transparent and defense-oriented.”

We call on the DPRK to immediately cease all threats, reduce tensions and take the necessary steps towards denuclearization needed to resume credible negotiations,” Wood said, referring to six-party talks that collapsed in 2008, according to Reuters.

READ MORE: North Korea holds missile and artillery live firing drill

North Korea already fired two short-range missiles off its eastern coast on Monday, according to South Korean officials, as a response to the annual US-South Korean military exercises. North Korea regularly denounces the drills, claiming they are preparations for war. The missiles landed in the sea between Korean Peninsula and southern Japan.

Takashi Uto, Japan’s parliamentary vice-minister for foreign affairs, told the forum the missile firing was a “clear violation” of UN Security Council resolutions.