North Korea warns of ‘unprecedented’ action
North Korea will take “unprecedentedly persistent and strong counteractions” if South Korea and the US go ahead with planned military exercises, the Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang said on Friday.
In a statement published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the ministry said it regards plans for drills by Washington and Seoul on the Korean Peninsula to be “preparations for an aggressive war.”
It stated that the US and South Korea are set to hold more than 20 rounds of war games next month, as well as conducting the largest-ever example of field exercises between the two nations. “This predicts that the situation in the Korean Peninsula and the region will again be plunged into the grave vortex of escalating tension,” the statement continued.
Earlier on Friday, South Korea’s deputy minister of national defense policy, Heo Tae-keun, announced that Seoul and Washington will conduct computer-simulated training in mid-March, which they say is defensive in nature and designed to counteract a North Korean nuclear threat. Heo added that field exercises will also be held, and that they will be larger than those from recent years.
Pyongyang warned earlier this month that the expansion of Washington’s military exercises with Seoul are pushing tensions towards an “extreme red line.”
North Korea conducted a record number of missile launches last year, including multiple long-range ballistic tests. It described them as a response to increasingly large-scale US-South Korea war games, which it views as dress-rehearsals for a full-scale invasion. Pyongyang has often responded to perceived acts of aggression by bolstering its own weapons-testing program.
Seoul has expressed renewed concerns about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, after it introduced a new law last year which authorizes the launch of a preemptive nuclear strike under certain conditions.