Published : 2013-02-28 20:04
Updated : 2013-02-28 20:04
North Korea ratcheted up warnings on Thursday as South Korea is set to hold annual joint military drills with the United States next month.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) dispatch which is monitored in Seoul said that "the black cloud of a nuclear war is coming," and warned any provocations against the North will lead to the self-destruction of the aggressor.
The threat comes as South Korea and the U.S. are scheduled to hold the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises. The computer-based simulation Key Resolve, slated for March 11-25, involves about 10,000 South Korean and 3,500 American troops to test various war scenarios. Foal Eagle starts on Friday and runs through April 30 and includes about 11,000 U.S. forces plus South Korean troops.
The North regularly issues warnings ahead of the annual drills, saying that they are targeting its regime, although South Korea has consistently pointed out that the maneuvers are defensive in nature. The communist country has been denouncing this year's exercises since late last week.
"The drills are risky actions to trigger a nuclear war, which is not in line with the trend in pursuance of regional peace and stability," the KCNA report said.
Referring to its latest underground atomic weapons detonation carried out on Feb. 12, it said "the latest nuclear test is only our initial response to the U.S.'s hostile actions," indicating that the country may take further steps.
The North's military is maintaining a high-level of war preparedness and is waiting for "the final order to strike," it noted.
The news media outlet also said the country is ready for war with the U.S. and any misunderstanding about the country's willingness and capabilities may lead to "high costs."
Since the North's nuclear device detonation, the country has stepped up its threats in response to the international community's move to expand sanctions on the communist country.
Earlier this month, a North Korean diplomat threatened to inflict the "final destruction" on South Korea in a United Nations conference. The warning is viewed by some as Pyongyang's willingness to use nuclear weapons against its neighbor. (Yonhap News)