North Korea lashed out again on Wednesday at large-scale military exercises — involving its southern neighbor and the United States — this time saying that war was "unavoidable."
The comments were attributed to an unnamed North Korea Foreign Ministry spokesman, who said "bellicose comments" from high-ranked US officials, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, had confirmed Washington's intent for war.
Pompeo had said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was unaware of how tenuous his situation was both domestically and internationally. The North Korean spokesman accused Pompeo of directly provoking the country by "impudently criticizing our supreme leadership that is the heart of our people."
"The remaining question now is: when will the war break out," the official said. "We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it, and should the US miscalculate our patience and light the fuse for a nuclear war, we will surely make the US dearly pay the consequences with our mighty nuclear force which we have consistently strengthened."
US bomber flies in
The comments came hours after the US flew a B-1B supersonic bomber over South Korea as part of a combined aerial exercise.
"Through the drill, the South Korean and US air forces displayed the allies' strong intent and ability to punish North Korea when threatened by nuclear weapons and missiles," the South Korean military said in a statement.
Last weekend, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said the possibility of war with North Korea was "increasing every day." North Korea's Kim and US President Donald Trump have traded insults, engaging in heated rhetoric, several times in recent months.
Meanwhile, a Chinese daily newspaper in a province bordering North Korea on Wednesday published a list of tips for how readers should best protect themselves in the event of a nuclear attack in North Korea.
The tensions come as United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman makes a rare visit to North Korea this week, making him the highest-level UN official to visit the isolated country since 2012.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong Guk met Feltman in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, on Wednesday to discuss bilateral cooperation and other issues of mutual interest, the North's KCNA news agency said.
rc/sms (AP, Reuters)