North Korea shut the door for talks or negotiations with the US as it accused Washington of pushing the nuclear crisis in the region to an “extreme red line”.
It warned of “the toughest reaction to any military attempt” by the West.
The spokesperson of North Korea’s foreign ministry warned that any military challenge by the US and its allies will be met with the “most overwhelming nuclear force” by Pyongyang.
“The DPRK is not interested in any contact or dialogue with the US as long as it pursues its hostile policy and confrontational line,” an unidentified spokesperson said on Thursday, according to state media KCNA.
The remarks come in response to US defence secretary Lloyd Austin ’s comments in South Korea about accelerating the deployment of advanced weapons on the Korean peninsula and expanding its combined military exercises with Seoul.
“This is a vivid expression of the US dangerous scenario which will result in turning the Korean Peninsula into a huge war arsenal and a more critical war zone,” the spokesperson said.
“The more dangerous the US threat to the DPRK gets, the stronger backfire the US will face in direct proportion to it,” added the spokesperson, referring to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
It accused the US of igniting “an all-out showdown with the DPRK” by holding military drills with South Korea, describing its North Korea policy as “unscrupulous heinous”, “hostile” and “dangerous”.
“DPRK will take the toughest reaction to any military attempt of the US on the principle of ‘nuke for nuke and an all-out confrontation for an all-out confrontation,’” the statement said.
On Tuesday, Mr Austin met with his South Korean counterpart Lee Jong-Sup in Seoul and pledged to step up military drills alongside expanded deployment of air assets such as fifth-generation fighters and strategic bombers .
“We deployed fifth-generation aircraft, F-22s and F-35s, we deployed a carrier strike group to visit the peninsula, you can look for more of that kind of activity going forward,” Mr Austin said in a joint press conference.
The two countries will hold “tabletop” exercises in February that will include plans to look at responses to a North Korean nuclear attack.
One of the biggest joint drills is expected to take place in the coming months with the resumption of Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercises that were halted under the Donald Trump administration .
Seoul is also planning to test a new “high-power” ballistic missile this week which is capable of hitting targets in North Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing an unidentified source.
South Korea‘s defence ministry said the US flew B-1B bombers and F-22 and F-35 fighter jets in an exercise on Wednesday with South Korean fighters above the country’s western waters.
Jeon Ha Gyu, a spokesperson of South Korea‘s defence ministry, said the ministry has no immediate reaction on Pyongyang’s comments.
The spokesperson, however, said the latest aerial drills were a show of allies and the US “extended deterrence”, referring to a commitment to use its full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear ones, to defend the country.
Tensions are expected to rise further in the Korean peninsula as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for an “ exponential increase ” in the country’s nuclear capabilities.
In an address at the end of last year, Mr Kim called for the mass production of battlefield tactical nuclear weapons targeting South Korea and the development of more powerful long-range missiles designed to reach the US mainland.
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