North Korea on Thursday accused the U.S. and South Korea of escalating tensions to the brink of nuclear war through their joint military drills, vowing to respond with “offensive action,” state media KCNA reported.
KCNA released a commentary by Choe Ju Hyon, whom it called an international security analyst, criticising the exercises as “a trigger for driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the point of explosion.”
“The reckless military confrontational hysteria of the U.S. and its followers against the DPRK is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to an irreversible catastrophe … to the brink of a nuclear war,” the article said.
It was using the acronym of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“Now the international community unanimously hopes that the dark clouds of a nuclear war hanging over the Korean peninsula will be removed as early as possible,” it added.
U.S. and South Korean forces have been conducting a series of annual springtime exercises since March, including air and sea drills involving a U.S. aircraft carrier and B-1B and B-52 bombers, and their first large-scale amphibious landing drills in five years.
The commentary singled out the air carrier’s participation as aimed at stoking confrontation, saying Pyongyang will respond to the drills by exercising its war deterrence through “offensive action”.
“The drills have turned the Korean peninsula into a huge powder magazine which can be detonated any moment,” it added.
North Korea has reacted furiously to the exercises, calling them a rehearsal for invasion.
It has been ramping up its military activity in recent weeks, unveiling new, smaller nuclear warheads, firing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking anywhere in the U.S. and testing what it called a nuclear-capable underwater attack drone.
In a separate KCNA dispatch, Han Tae Song, permanent representative of North Korea’s diplomatic mission in Geneva, strongly denounced an annual resolution adopted this week by the U.N. Human Rights Council on the country’s rights situation.
Pyongyang has long rejected international criticism of its human rights abuses as an U.S.-led plot to overthrow its regime.
Han called the resolution an “intolerable act of political provocation and hostility” and “the most heavily politicised document of fraud.”