A senior North Korean official Tuesday accused the US of turning the Korean peninsula into “the world’s biggest hotspot” and creating “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment”.
North Korea’s deputy UN ambassador, Kim In-ryong, described US-South Korean military exercises as the largest ever “aggressive war drill” and said his country was “ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US”, reports The Guardian.
Kim’s warning came as the US vice-president, Mike Pence, assured Japan on Tuesday that Washington would work closely with its allies in the region to bring about a peaceful resolution to the crisis and denuclearise the Korean peninsula.
Pence and Abe repeated calls for China to play a bigger role in reining in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
“While all options are on the table,” Pence said, “President Trump is determined to work closely with Japan, with South Korea, with all our allies in the region, and with China.”
He added: “We seek peace always as a country, as does Japan, but as you know and the United States knows, peace comes through strength and we will stand strongly with Japan and strongly with our allies for a peace and security in this region.”
Along with South Korea, Japan is particularly vulnerable to a North Korean attack as it is within range of the regime’s conventional weapons.
North Korea’s deputy foreign minister, Han Song-Ryol, told the BBC that Pyongyang would continue to test missiles “on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis”.
All-out war would ensue if the US took military action, he said.
Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, said he believed the US was seeking to ease tensions through multi-party talks, despite its repeated insistence that military action remains an option.
“We know the situation is tense,” Wang said. “The more tense things are, the more calm we need to be to find the opportunities and possibilities for dialogue.”
The statements from the North Korean officials came as Trump told the government in Pyongyang that it has “gotta behave” and Pence said the “era of strategic patience is over”.
On Monday Pence visited the tense demilitarised zone (DMZ) dividing North and South Korea at the start of a 10-day trip to Asia to underscore US commitment to the region.