North Korea warns of military action over joint S Korea-US drills

North Korean spokesperson said ‘strong counteractions’ would follow if South Korea and the US conducted planned military exercises.

Armoured vehicles take part in a military parade to mark the 75th founding anniversary of North Korea's army
North Korean armoured vehicles participate in a military parade to mark the 75th founding anniversary of North Korea's army, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea on February 8, 2023 [File: KCNA via Reuters]

North Korea has threatened to unleash “unprecedentedly persistent and strong counteractions” if South Korea and the United States carry out planned military exercises in the coming weeks, local media reported.

A spokesperson for North Korea’s foreign ministry issued the warning on Friday before the annual Freedom Shield joint military exercises of South Korea and the US and accused Washington of stoking tension by conducting earlier drills which included US stealth fighters and a BI-B strategic bomber that can be equipped with nuclear weapons.

“In case the US and South Korea carry into practice their already-announced plan for military drills … they will face unprecedentedly persistent and strong counteractions,” South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported quoting the spokesperson.

The spokesperson reiterated a longstanding claim by Pyongyang that joint exercises between Washington and Seoul were preparations for an invasion of North Korea, Yonhap reported.

Describing the US-South Korean drills as “their dangerous attempt to gain a long-term military edge” over North Korea, the spokesperson predicted that the situation on the Korean Peninsula “will be again plunged into the grave vortex of escalating tension”.

“If it is the US option to show its muscle and counter everything with muscle, the same is true of the DPRK’s option,” the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

DPRK refers to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – North Korea’s official name.

North Korea issued the statement less than two hours after South Korea announced a joint table-top exercise with the US next week aimed at honing Washington and Seoul’s joint response to a potential use of nuclear weapons by North Korea, Seoul officials said on Friday.

The computer simulation at the Pentagon is meant to focus on measures against North Korean nuclear threats and discuss how to boost the US’s ability to use its full capabilities, including nuclear, to deter attacks on its allies, South Korea’s Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The spokesperson also blasted the UN Security Council on Friday for dedicating a session to North Korea in November and accused it of being a “tool for the US illegal hostile policy towards the DPRK”.

The springtime Freedom Shield field training is scheduled to begin in mid-March in South Korea and will run for 11 days.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies