North Korea yesterday blasted the US and South Korea as “warmongers” on the eve of their largest-ever joint air exercise, saying it could trigger a nuclear war.
The comments came as White House’s national security advisor, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, warned of the “increasing” possibility of war with the North.
The five-day Vigilant Ace drill — involving about 230 aircraft, including F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters — begins today, five days after the North test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile believed capable of hitting the US mainland in a fresh challenge to US President Donald Trump.
Photo: Reuters / Korean Central News Agency
The North’s ruling party Rodong newspaper slammed the upcoming drill.
“It is an open, all-out provocation against the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], which may lead to a nuclear war any moment,” it said in an editorial yesterday.
“The US and South Korean puppet warmongers would be well advised to bear in mind that their DPRK-targeted military drill will be as foolish as an act precipitating their self-destruction,” it said.
The commentary was published a day after Pyongyang’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the Trump administration of “begging for nuclear war” by staging what it called the reckless air drills.
McMaster said the possibility of war with the North was “increasing every day.”
“I think it’s increasing every day, which means that ... we are in a race to be able to solve this problem,” he said at a forum on Saturday in California.
“There are ways to address this problem short of armed conflict, but it is a race because he’s getting closer and closer, and there’s not much time left,” McMaster said.
The North says the Hwasong-15 missile fired on Wednesday can be tipped with a “super-large heavy warhead” capable of striking the whole US mainland.
However, analysts remain unconvinced that it has mastered the advanced technology to allow the rocket to survive re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.
The months-long nuclear standoff between Kim and Trump has fueled concerns of another conflict, but even some Trump advisers say US military options are limited when Pyongyang could launch an artillery barrage on the South Korean capital, Seoul, which is about 50km from the border and home to 10 million people.
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