Pyongyang warns of ‘toughest reaction’ to US military action after air drills
(Update 1: Adds North Korea reaction, minor edits, changes head, lede)
Seoul, Feb 2 (EFE).- North Korea warned Thursday that it will “take the toughest reaction” to any military action by the United States, hours after Seoul and Washington carried out joint air drills and the US defense secretary visited South Korea.
“The DPRK will take the toughest reaction to any military attempt of the US on the principle of ‘nuke for nuke and an all-out confrontation for an all-out confrontation!,'” North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement published by state news agency KCNA.
“The military and political situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region has reached an extreme red-line due to the reckless military confrontational maneuvers and hostile acts of the US and its vassal forces,” it said, adding that “the US is going to ignite an all-out showdown with the DPRK through continued combined drills.”
Washington has repeatedly urged Pyongyang to return to the dialogue table, but has been stonewalled.
Pyonyang reiterated Thursday that it is not interested in any dialogue with Washington “as long as it pursues its hostile policy and confrontational line.”
North Korea’s statement comes a day after Seoul and Washington held combined air drills using US B-1B strategic bombers and F-22 and F-35B stealth fighters and the South’s F-35A fighter jets, the South Korean Defense Ministry confirmed on Thursday.
“This joint air exercise demonstrates the US will and ability to provide strong and credible extended deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats,” the ministry said in a statement.
These first joint exercises of the year took place in the Yellow Sea to improve the allies’ “combined operational capability and interoperability,” it said.
In November, the US deployed B-1 strategic bombers to the Korean Peninsula for the first time since 2017, when tension between Pyongyang and Washington reached dangerous levels.
That year marked a turning point with the rapprochement between the North Korean regime and the administration of then-US president Donald Trump and the US stopped deploying this type of aircraft in the region until the end of last year, when tensions intensified again.
The exercises took place a day after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to Seoul, where he pledged to strengthen the extended deterrence commitment against the North Korean threat through close communications, deployment of strategic assets and trilateral cooperation with Japan.
The North’s reaction on Thursday comes after a year in which Pyongyang carried out a record number of weapons tests, around 50, and in which tension on the Korean Peninsula has reached new highs. EFE