North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un laughs during a visit to the tire factory in Amnokgang, Chagang province, in an undated photograph released on Sunday, December 3 by the North Korean official agency KCNA.
The United States and South Korea begin the largest joint aerial exercise on Monday, an operation that Pyongyang described as „total provocation“, a few days after the launch of a powerful North Korean missile.
The five-day Vigilant Ace exercise, which starts this Monday morning, involves more than 230 aircraft, including F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, and will mobilize tens of thousands of troops.
During the weekend Rodong of the single party in power in North Korea denounced these maneuvers.
„It is an open provocation, at all levels, against North Korea, which could lead to a nuclear war at any time,“ the newspaper said in its editorial.
„The American warmongers and their South Korean puppet would do well to remember that their military exercise against North Korea will be as stupid as an act that precipitates its self-destruction,“ he added.
The North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the administration of Donald Trump on Saturday of „wanting nuclear war at any price“ with this aerial simulation.
The annual exercise comes five days after the North Korean regime tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) allegedly capable of reaching the United States.
Amid tensions, on Sunday, Lindsey Graham, an influential Republican senator, stirred the specter of a preventive war.
„If there is an underground nuclear test, it will be necessary to prepare for a very serious response from the United States,“ warned the Republican congressman on the CBS network.
– Threats from Pyongyang –
Graham’s words echoed yesterday’s remarks made by Donald Trump’s national security adviser, General HR McMaster, who declared during a symposium on defense that the likelihood of a war with North Korea „increases every day“ .
The isolated and impoverished regime has chained six nuclear tests since 2006, the last of which was launched in September.
North Korea launched on Wednesday a new type of Hwasong 15 missile capable of carrying „an oversized heavy warhead“ that can reach the entire continental US. According to the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, with this trial the country reached the goal of becoming a nuclear State in its own right.
While the experts estimated that the latest test showed Pyongyang’s advance in military technology, they also pointed out that it was very likely that a light warhead was used for the trial and that with a heavier nuclear warhead the missile would have difficulty reaching far.
Analysts also showed skepticism about North Korea’s ability to preserve the survival of warheads in their reentry into the atmosphere.
The military program, which has caused many international condemnations to Pyongyang, has advanced since the coming to power of Kim Jong-Un in 2011.
Trump’s election as US president has strained relations and stirred up the threat of conflict, more than six decades after the Korean War (1950-53) that left the peninsula in ruins.