North Korea’s ambassador to Moscow says Pyongyang is ready to deliver the "most ruthless blow" to any provocative move by the US during an ongoing joint military drill with South Korea and Japan in waters off the troubled Korean peninsula.
"Our army has already said that if there will be even the smallest provocation from the United States during exercises, we are ready to deliver the most ruthless blow," Kim Hyong-Jun told Interfax news agency on Thursday, adding, "We have the readiness and ability to counter any challenge from the US."
The United States, South Korea, and Japan on Monday started a joint military exercise on the Korean Peninsula to simulate countering a North Korean submarine-launched missile attack.
The drill began after US President Donald Trump warned that Washington would act unilaterally to deal with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs if China, which is North’s most important ally, proved unwilling to help.
North Korea's Foreign Ministry on Monday criticized the US for its tough talk and for the ongoing military exercise.
The "reckless actions" are driving the tense situation on the Korean peninsula "to the brink of a war," a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
North Korea sees joint military drills between the US and its regional allies as a dress rehearsal for invasion.
A statement released by the South Korean Defense Ministry on Tuesday said that North had launched a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.
Pyongyang has so far conducted five nuclear tests and numerous missile launches.
The US, which has military forces in South Korea, has recently started the installation of an advanced missile system at an air base in the South, further stoking tensions with the North, as well as China.