SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea threatened a vague 'offensive' action over the expansion in U.S. military drills with South Korea. This came as Joe Biden’s North Korea special representative flew to Seoul on Thursday for talks with allies about the North's increasing nuclear threat.
North Korean remarks came just a day after US bombers with nuclear capability flew to the Korean Peninsula in a show of force. The North has interpreted the drills by the allies as invasion rehearsals. The tensions have risen in recent weeks, as both the U.S. and South Korean military exercises increased their pace in a cycle that tittered back and forth.
According to the North's Korean Central News Agency, the United States' military exercises with South Korea and the deployments of advanced U.S. assets has turned the Korean Peninsula in a "huge powdermagazine that can detonate at any time."
The military provocations of the U.S. led warmongers are beyond tolerance. This reality requires a more explicit response and stand on (North Korea's defense capabilities),' KCNA stated in a comment attributed to a professor.
It said that 'North Korea will continue to demonstrate its commitment and confidence in the crucial mission it has undertaken through offensive actions'.
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KCNA's comment came at the same time as Sung Kim arrived in Seoul to meet with South Korean officials and Japanese officials about how to respond to North Korea's increasing weapons development and nuclear threats.
Kim, who met with South Korean Foreign Ministry Park Jin on Thursday and other South Korean officials, will participate in a tri-party meeting on Friday with South Korean and Japanese nuclear representatives, according to the South Korean Foreign Ministry.
North Korea launched nearly 20 missiles in March, including an intercontinental missile with a range that could reach the U.S. continent and a number of shorter-range weapons intended to deliver nuclear attacks on South Korean targets.
The North said its tests were a reaction to the U.S. and South Korean drills. Last month, the allies held their largest field exercise in many years and separate joint aerial and maritime drills with U.S. aircraft carriers and long-range bombers.
The tensions will likely increase as North Korea uses the ongoing drills of its allies as a pretext for advancing weapons development and increasing military training with nuclear-capable rockets.
South Korean officials believe North Korea could up the ante and stage more provocative military displays. These could include the North's 1st nuclear test since 2017, or a test-fire of an ICBM with a normal trajectory towards the Pacific.
North Korea may time its military displays around major holidays in this month. These include the 15th birthday of Kim Il Sung (grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un) and the 25th anniversary of the founding of its army. North Korea has also said that it aims at completing preparations for a military spy satellite launch into space by April. This would be seen by its rivals as a test of ICBM tech banned by international sanctions.
Lt. Gen. Park Ha Sik of the South Korean Air Force Operation Command said that Wednesday's B-52 bomber drills were meant to demonstrate the allies' "strong resolve" and their "perfect readiness to react to any provocation from North Korea quickly and overwhelmingly."
Last week, the United States sent its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to South Korea for joint naval exercises and this week it will conduct anti-submarine drills with South Korea, Japan and the United States.