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North Korea says U.S. joint naval drills may lead to ‘brink of war’

 UPI News logo: MainLogo UPI News 9/27/2022 Thomas Maresca

SEOUL, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations blamed the "growing hostility" of the United States for his regime's nuclear weapons buildup and warned that ongoing U.S.-South Korea naval exercises could drive the countries to the "brink of war."

"The security environment of the Korean Peninsula is now caught in a vicious cycle of tensions and confrontation due to the growing hostility of the United States and its following forces against the DPRK," Ambassador Kim Song said Monday in an address to the U.N. General Assembly.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

"Recently, it is heading into a much more dangerous phase," he said.

South Korea and the United States began four days of joint naval drills Monday featuring the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and its strike group.

Pyongyang has regularly condemned joint exercises on the Korean Peninsula, characterizing them as a rehearsal for an invasion. On Monday, Kim said that they were the cause of "serious concerns."

"Obviously, this is an extremely dangerous act of igniting the fuse to drive the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war," he said.

Pyongyang has conducted a record number of weapons tests this year, including its first intercontinental ballistic missile launch since 2017, and officials in Seoul and Washington have assessed that the secretive regime is poised for its seventh nuclear detonation.

North Korea also recently announced a new law officially declaring itself a nuclear weapons state and giving it the right to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes.

Kim claimed that Pyongyang was "compelled" to adopt the policy "in defiance of the U.S. hostility."

"The United States should clearly understand that its heinous and hostile policy against the DPRK over the past 30 years had just brought about today's reality, and ask and answer itself and ponder over how far it would prolong this situation in the future," he said.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said during a briefing on Monday that Pyongyang swings back and forth between periods of engagement with Washington and periods of provocation.

"It's very clear that we're in a period of provocation now," Price said.

"None of these provocations have or will change our essential orientation -- that is, our stalwart commitment to the defense of the ROK and Japan, our treaty allies," he added.

The Republic of Korea is the official name of South Korea.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will arrive in South Korea on Thursday after leading a delegation to Japan for the funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Her itinerary will include a visit to the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea, according to officials.


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