As the US and South Korea prepare for massive war games next week, North Korea is forewarning nuclear war on the peninsula. In a fiery statement, Pyongyang declared the chances of nuclear conflict are “realistic“ given the “irresponsible deeds of the US and South Korea.”
Last week, Washington and Seoul announced their largest joint war games in five years. Running from March 13-23, the “Foal Eagle” military drills will see American strategic assets deployed to the Korean peninsula, as well Reaper drones.
Last month, Pyongyang warned if Washington and Seoul resumed their annual spring-time war games, the DPRK would turn the Pacific Ocean into a firing range. In 2018, the US and South Korea elected to cancel the Foal Eagle military drills to promote diplomacy with North Korea.
On Monday, the North Korean Foreign Ministry issued a statement in response to the joint war games, blasting Washington and Seoul for increasing the chance of nuclear war. “The danger of a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula is turning from an imaginary stage to a realistic one due to the irresponsible deeds of the US and South Korea keen on the bellicose armed demonstrations,” it said.
Though the Pentagon claims Foal Eagle is a defensive exercise, Pyongyang views the war games as preparation for an attack on North Korea. The military operation “clearly shows that the US scheme to use nuclear weapons against the DPRK is being carried out on the same footing as an actual war,” the Foreign Ministry added.
Kim Yo-jong, the sister of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, said the war games would force Pyongyang to respond. “The demonstrative military moves and all sorts of rhetoric by the US and South Korea, which go so extremely frantic as not to be overlooked, undoubtedly provide [North Korea] with conditions for being forced to do something to cope with them,” she said.
Additionally, Kim warned Washington and Seoul against shooting down any missiles test-fired by Pyongyang, saying such a move would be considered a “declaration of war.”
In a separate statement by a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), Pyongyang claimed artillery drills in South Korea are further “aggravating” tensions. “On the morning of March 7, the enemy fired more than 30 artillery shells. This is a very grave military provocation further aggravating the prevailing situation,” it said.
North Korean forces were placed on “alert posture for attack,” the spokesperson added.