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Pyongyang Denounces Upcoming US-South Korea Military Drills

  • Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, guides the test fire of a new multiple launch rocket system in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, March 4, 2016.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, guides the test fire of a new multiple launch rocket system in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, March 4, 2016.

North Korea on Sunday denounced annual military drills between the United States and South Korea, scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Some 300,000 South Korean forces and 15,000 of their American counterparts are expected to take part in the yearly exercises, according to the South's Yonhap news agency. This would make 2016 the largest combined force to participate in the so-called Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises, Yonhap said.

Pyongyang regularly protests the drills, which they say are rehearsals for an impending war, and have recently stepped up its threats amid a period of increased tension on the peninsula.

On Sunday a statement read on the North's state-controlled KRT television station threatened retaliation.

South Korean protesters shout slogans during a rally criticizing U.N. sanction on North Korea and upcoming joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea in Seoul, South Korea, March 5, 2016.

South Korean protesters shout slogans during a rally criticizing U.N. sanction on North Korea and upcoming joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea in Seoul, South Korea, March 5, 2016.

"We have cutting-edge attack methods to beat up the U.S. mainland at anytime and from anywhere," the KRT news reader said. "Also we have diligently developed and deployed Juche (self-reliant) weapons in the era of the Workers' Party of Korea, which enables us to fire strong artilleries."

"If a war breaks out on the Korean peninsula, the U.S. will be held accountable for igniting the war by mobilizing their massive strategic means and war hardware here, regardless of who mounted a preemptive attack," the newsreader said.

On Friday, the North's state media said its leader, Kim Jong Un, had ordered its military to be in a "preemptive attack" mode, including the use of nuclear weapons, in the face of growing threats from its enemies.

The comments marked a further escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula after the U.N. Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on the isolated state for its nuclear program.

Foal Eagle and Key Resolve are scheduled to last until April 30, according to Yonhap.

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