SEOUL, Feb 2 (Reuters) – North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that drills by the United States and its allies had pushed the situation to an “extreme red line” and threatened to turn the peninsula into a “massive war arsenal.” a more important war zone.”
A statement carried by state news agency KCNA said Pyongyang was not interested in dialogue while Washington pursued a hostile policy.
“The military-political situation on the Korean Peninsula and the region has reached an extremely red line level due to the reckless military confrontation maneuvers and hostile actions of the US and its vassal forces,” the ministry’s spokesperson said in a statement.
The statement cited US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to Seoul this week. On Tuesday, Austin and his South Korean counterpart pledged to expand military exercises and deploy more “strategic assets” such as aircraft carriers and long-range bombers to counter North Korea’s weapons development and prevent war.
“This is a vivid expression of the dangerous scenario of the US, which will lead to the transformation of the Korean Peninsula into a huge war arsenal and an even more important war zone,” North Korea said in a statement.
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North Korea will respond to any military action by the United States and, if necessary, has a strong counter-strategy such as “the most powerful nuclear power”.
More than 28,500 American 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.
Last year, North Korea conducted a record number of ballistic missile tests banned by UN Security Council resolutions. It also saw the reopening of a nuclear weapons test site that had been closed for the first time since 2017 in anticipation of a nuclear test.
In New York, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin met with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday and called on the UN to continue to focus on North Korea’s latest provocations and efforts to implement sanctions against the reclusive regime.
Guterres said North Korea’s additional nuclear test would deal a fatal blow to regional and international security and reaffirmed his support for a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, Park’s office said.
Park is on a four-day visit to the US and will meet US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Washington on Friday.
On Wednesday, the United States and South Korea conducted joint aerial exercises with American B-1B heavy bombers and F-22 stealth fighter jets, as well as F-35 fighter jets from both countries, South Korea reported. Korean Ministry of Defense.
“This time, the joint air exercise demonstrates the will and capability of the United States to provide a strong and credible long-term deterrent against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats,” the Defense Department said in a statement.
Reporting by Josh Smith; Additional reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Edited by Jonathan Oatis, Bill Berkrot and Gerry Doyle
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