North Korea warns of ‘devastating’ nuclear response

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Washington and Seoul are readying themselves for war and Pyongyang will not “stand idly by,” its defense ministry has declared

The North Korean Defense Ministry has accused the US and South Korea of preparing for “nuclear war,” warning that any use of force against North Korea would be “met with a preemptive and devastating response.” The ministry’s statement came after Pyongyang’s forces test-fired a ballistic missile.

The missile was launched off North Korea's east coast on Sunday, and fell into the sea 20 minutes after blast-off, according to the Japanese coast guard. 

Shortly after the launch, the defense ministry released a statement accusing the “US and South Korean military thugs” of ramping up preparations for “nuclear war,” citing a meeting of the US-South Korean Nuclear Consultative Group in Washington on Friday, after which the White House said that the US would use “the full range of US capabilities, including nuclear,” to defend South Korea from an attack by the north.

The ministry’s statement also condemned the arrival of the USS Missouri, a nuclear-powered submarine, in South Korea on Sunday, and described military drills held in August by American and South Korean forces as “a blatant declaration of nuclear confrontation.”

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South Korean soldiers stand guard in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating South and North Korea on March 03, 2023 in Panmunjom, South Korea War is inevitable – North Korea

“We will never stand idly by and watch the provocative actions of the United States,” the ministry stated, adding that North Korean forces are prepared to “thoroughly neutralize the attempt by the United States and its followers to provoke nuclear war.”

“Any attempt by hostile powers to use force against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will be met with a preemptive and devastating response,” the statement concluded.

After a brief detente during the latter part of former US President Donald Trump’s term in office, North Korea ramped up its missile testing program following Joe Biden’s inauguration, and has conducted more than 100 launches since the beginning of 2022. The US, meanwhile, has increased the scale and frequency of its military exercises with South Korea, while the White House has warned Pyongyang twice this year that a nuclear first strike by the north "is unacceptable and will result in the end of the (Kim Jong) Un regime.”

North Korea successfully put a spy satellite into orbit in November, and claimed a week later that it had captured “detailed” images of American military installations, aircraft carriers, and the White House. South Korean spies claim that the north is preparing to carry out its first nuclear test since 2017 some time next year.

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