North Korea is poised to start a war with the United States “right now” after Washington held joint military exercises with South Korea, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong warned Monday. He said Pyongyang could not “sit idle in the face of the U.S. threat.”
“At present, a situation has developed on the Korean peninsula that a war can start right now due to the activities of the United States, which conducts military drills in real conditions envisaging all methods of performing sudden military raids on the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea and views ‘a pre-emptive strike’ as a fait accompli,” the North Korean foreign minister said in a lengthy interview with Tass, a Russian state media outlet. “We have a powerful military might that can conduct a war with any means,” he added.
The United States has made North Korea its top target and organized the military exercises as a strike against the nation, he said. The warnings mark the latest threat from North Korea, which has complained that the U.S. is preparing to invade the impoverished and unstable nation. The joint military exercises earlier this month between Washington and Seoul involved 300,000 South Korean troops and at least 17,000 from the U.S. The United Nations Command called the annual exercises “nonprovocative” in nature.
“The current military maneuvers where a huge military contingent numbering several hundred thousand servicemen is involved and all possible strategic nuclear armaments whose number is twice as much as in the previous years are being held in conditions maximally close to real combat,” the North Korean foreign minister said.
He dismissed complaints from global leaders in recent months over North Korea’s nuclear weapon development. North Korea claims it conducted a successful H-bomb test, put a satellite into space orbit and is capable of carrying out a missile strike against Washington. State-run media reported in early March that leader Kim Jong Un had ordered a “nuclear warhead explosion test” and test firings of “several kinds of ballistic rockets able to carry nuclear warheads.”
“It was the United States that pushed us towards possessing nuclear weapons while a nuclear threat and blackmail from the U.S. have been the causes that have led to North Korea’s nuclear status,” the North Korean foreign minister told Tass. “In response to the U.S. frenzied hysteria for unleashing a nuclear war, we have fully transferred our army from the form of military response to the form of delivering a pre-emptive strike and state resolutely about the readiness to deliver a pre-emptive nuclear strike.”
North Korea will continue to focus its military readiness on nuclear defenses, he said. “In a word, the Korean peninsula faces the dilemma: a thermonuclear war or peace,” he said.