North Korea says US drills push situation to ‘extreme red line’ | News about nuclear weapons

Pyongyang threatens the ‘harshest reaction’ to the US expansion of joint military exercises with South Korea.

North Korea has criticized South Korea and the United States for their joint military exercises, saying the drills have pushed the situation on the Korean Peninsula to an “extreme red line” and threatened to turn the region into a “huge war arsenal and an even more critical war zone.”

The North Korean statement, released on Thursday, also threatened the “strongest” response and said Pyongyang was not interested in dialogue as long as Washington pursued what it called “hostile” policies.

Pyongyang’s warning came days after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Seoul and pledged to increase Washington’s deployment of advanced military assets to the Korean Peninsula, including fighter jets and aircraft carriers, as it strengthens joint training and operational planning with South Korea.

North Korea’s statement, attributed to an unidentified spokesman for its foreign ministry, said the expansion of allied exercises threatened to turn the Korean peninsula into a “huge war arsenal and an even more critical war zone.” The statement said Pyongyang was ready to counter any short- or long-term military challenge from its “top nuclear power” ally.

“The military and political situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region has reached the extreme red line due to the reckless military maneuvers of the conflict and the hostile acts of the US and its vassal forces,” the spokesman said.

“The DPRK will respond most severely to any US military attempt under the principle of ‘nuke for nuke and all-out conflict for all-out conflict!'” the spokesman said, referring to the country by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“If the US continues to deploy strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding area, the DPRK will clarify its deterrence activities without fail in accordance with their nature,” the spokesman added.

For decades, North Korea has described joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises as rehearsals for a potential invasion, though allies have described the drills as defensive. North Korea stepped up its own weapons demonstrations last year as allies resumed large-scale training that had been scaled back for years.

North Korea’s actions included a series of missile and artillery launches it described as simulated nuclear attacks on South Korean and US targets.

Jeon Ha Gyu, a spokesman for South Korea’s defense ministry, said the ministry had no immediate comment on North Korea’s statement.

He said the allies’ latest air drills – which took place on Wednesday and included US B-1B bombers and F-22 and F-35 fighter jets – aimed to demonstrate the credibility of the US’s “extended deterrence”, citing a commitment to use the entire range of its military capabilities, including nuclear, to defend South Korea.

He declined to reveal the exact number of South Korean and US aircraft involved in the exercise.

South Korea has in recent months sought stronger assurances that the US will quickly and decisively use its nuclear capabilities to protect its ally in the face of a North Korean nuclear attack. More than 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

During a policy conference in December, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for an “exponential increase” in nuclear warheads, the mass production of battlefield tactical nuclear weapons aimed at South Korea and the development of more powerful long-range missiles designed to reach the US mainland.

Experts say Kim’s nuclear push is aimed at forcing the US to accept the idea of ​​North Korea as a nuclear power and then negotiate much-needed economic concessions from a position of strength.

Nuclear talks between North Korea and the US have been stalled since 2019 over disagreements over the easing of Washington-led economic sanctions against North Korea in return for Pyongyang’s steps to suspend its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

A North Korean spokesman said Pyongyang was not interested in any contact or dialogue with the US as long as it maintained its “hostile policy and line of conflict”, accusing Washington of maintaining sanctions and military pressure to force North Korea to “unilaterally disarm”.

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