North Korea warned on Tuesday that it would interpret as “a clear declaration of war” any interception of missiles it tests over the Pacific Ocean during upcoming joint US-DPRK military exercises. South.

“It will be considered as a clear declaration of war against the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, editor’s note), in case a military response such as an interception (of our missiles) takes place during our strategic weapons tests” , said Kim Yo Jong, the very powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, quoted by the official North Korean agency KCNA.

“The Pacific Ocean is not under the domination of the United States or Japan,” she insisted, as the United States and neighboring South Korea prepare to carry out their most important military maneuvers spouses since 2018.

North Korea “always stands ready to take appropriate, swift and overwhelming action at any time,” she warned, calling recent military drills by Washington and Seoul “extremely frenetic.”

In addition to the “Ulchi Freedom Shield” maneuvers between US and South Korean forces that will begin on March 13 for at least 10 days, Washington and Seoul held joint aerial exercises this week with a US nuclear-capable B-52 heavy bomber.

Washington and Seoul say they are defense exercises, but Pyongyang sees them as dress rehearsals for an invasion of its territory or an overthrow of its regime.

North Korea’s foreign minister on Tuesday accused the United States of “intentionally” raising tensions in the region.

“The recent joint air exercises (…) clearly show that the plan to use nuclear weapons against the DPRK is proceeding at the pace of a real war”, he denounced, in a separate press release.

“We deeply regret the irresponsible and disturbing moves by the United States and South Korea, which constantly push the situation on the Korean Peninsula towards instability,” the ministry said, also quoted by KCNA.

Relations between Pyongyang and Seoul are at a multi-year low, with talks stalled.

In 2022, the North called its status as a nuclear power “irreversible” and conducted a series of ballistic and missile tests in violation of UN resolutions.

For their part, Seoul and Washington have decided to intensify their joint exercises and redeploy US strategic resources in the region.

These exercises inevitably arouse the ire of neighboring North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently called for an “exponential” increase in the production of North Korean weapons, including tactical nuclear weapons, and his sister described the Pacific as the “firing range” of his country.

On Sunday, Pyongyang called on the United Nations to demand that Seoul and Washington end their joint military maneuvers, saying its nuclear weapons guaranteed the balance of power in the region.

North Korea also announced on February 24 that it had fired cruise missiles the day before, after South Korea and the United States had conducted a nuclear conflict simulation exercise in Washington with Pyongyang.

The United States has recently sought to reassure South Korea of ​​its extended deterrent capability to its allies.

Seoul, which does not have nuclear weapons, remains officially committed to nuclear non-proliferation, even as there are growing calls domestically to consider obtaining its own nuclear weapons.

07/03/2023 12:04:08 – Seoul (AFP) © 2023 AFP