North Korea slammed the upcoming joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea and threatened to attack the White House and Seoul. The reclusive North Thursday called the two-week Ulchi Freedom annual joint exercise a "declaration of war," as it considers these as preparations for a full-fledged war against Pyongyang.
A spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry condemned the military drills, set to begin Monday, in a statement, cited by state-run news agency KCNA. The drills would witness tens of thousands of troops rehearsing to prepare in the event of a North Korean invasion. While the U.S. and South Korea have repeatedly insisted that the drills are defensive in nature, Pyongyang believes them to be provocative.
“The U.S. projected war rehearsal clearly proves that the U.S. is the arch criminal sparking off a vicious cycle of escalating confrontation and tension and creating the danger of a war on the Korean peninsula,” the statement said, according to KCNA, adding: “If the U.S. persistently opts for military confrontation despite the repeated warnings of the DPRK and the unanimous censure by the international community, it will be held wholly accountable for all the ensuing consequences.”
The drills were also denounced in a separate statement by the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK), a body that handles inter-Korean relations. It said, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP), that the military rehearsals were a "drill for a surprise nuclear war" against North Korea.
"Such large-scale joint military exercises ... are little short of a declaration of a war," the statement reportedly said, adding that even an accidental military clash can start an “all-out conflict.”
The CPRK also said, according to AFP, referring to the White House and the presidential Blue House in Seoul, that the U.S. and South Korea should be aware that their "strongholds of aggression and provocation" were within the reach of "ultra-precision" military weapons owned by Pyongyang.
Despite North Korea’s claims of having built an extensive missile development program to boost its nuclear weapons strategy, experts are skeptical about how advanced the technology really is. In May, Pyongyang said that it successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), but later reports suggested that the pictures could have been manipulated. A fully developed SLBM can allow North Korea to fire far beyond the Korean peninsula.
There is also an atmosphere of increased tension between the two Koreas after Seoul accused Pyongyang of planting land mines in the demilitarized zone last week, which led to two of its soldiers being injured. Pyongyang has not responded to the allegations yet. Meanwhile, American soldiers in South Korea are also reportedly drawing maps of North Korean underground military facilities to be able to better tackle the threats from the latter.