North Korea on Monday threatened the U.S. and South Korea anew of a possible nuclear attack after a series of joint military exercises in the Korean peninsula. Experts fear that the word war could escalate into a nuclear showdown in the region.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has been issuing threats of nuclear attack against the U.S. and its allies, particularly South Korea, since he assumed power in 2011. In a state-ran Korean Central News Agency, Kim said the country is readying a nuclear attack as an offensive and preemptive measure against its enemies, the U.S. and South Korea.
“As the joint military exercises to be staged by the enemies are regarded as the most undisguised nuclear war drills aimed to infringe upon the sovereignty of the DPRK, its military counteraction will be more preemptive and offensive nuclear strike to cope with them,” the DPRK statement reads as quoted by the CNN.
A top U.S. official, in response to Kim’s threats, said North Korea should refrain from provocative actions, which could lead to worsening situations in the region. The same official, the CNN reports, added that the U.S., together with its allies, is closely monitoring the current development in the region.
The annual joint military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea, which was launched Monday, is by far the biggest in the history of the program, USA Today reports. The drill, which involves 300,000 South Korean and 17,000 U.S. military troops, will run until April.
Meanwhile, Moon Sang Gyun, spokesperson for South Korea’s Defense Ministry, said the country is ready to launch a counterattack should the North choose to launch a provocative attack. He added that South Korea would respond to any attack from the North “sternly and mercilessly.”
It can be recalled that last week, the UN Security Council recently approved the toughest sanction that the council has ever imposed in 20 years against North Korea. The sanction came after Pyongyang’s continued defiance to heed UN’s order to refrain from using nuclear capabilities for military purposes.