A North Korean official says his country is ready for war if the United States attacks as a US aircraft carrier group heads for the region. There is speculation that Pyongyang may conduct a sixth nuclear weapons test on Saturday.
Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol told the Associated Press that North Korea changed its military strategy two years ago when reports emerged of US-South Korea “decapitation-strike” training to stress pre-emptive actions of its own.
“We’ve got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a US pre-emptive strike,” he said. “Whatever comes from the US, we will cope with it. We are fully prepared to handle it.”
He vowed North Korea will keep building up its nuclear arsenal in “quality and quantity”.
Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington go back to the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
But the heat has been rising rapidly since US President Donald Trump took office in January.
This year’s joint war games between the US and South Korean militaries are the biggest so far.