North Korea's foreign minister says the U.S.-South Korean military drills that began this week are "unprecedentedly provocative" and could set off a war on the Korean peninsula.
Speaking Tuesday from Geneva at the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament, Ri Su Yong also appeared to repeat Pyongyang's threat of a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Washington.
"The DPRK cannot but bolster its nuclear deterrent capability to cope with the ever-increasing nuclear threat of the U.S. Now the DPRK has the power of deferring the U.S. and conducting a preemptive strike, as well, if necessary," he said.
Scud missiles fired
North Korea on Monday fired two Scud missiles into the sea in an apparent protest against the joint U.S.-South Korean war games, which started on Monday and will run through April.
Pyongyang has long demanded the U.S. and South Korea stop the annual military drills, which it has called "a dress rehearsal for a northward invasion." Seoul and Washington insist they are deterrent in nature.
North Korea, which has carried out three nuclear tests, has in the past used the yearly exercises as an occasion to threaten nuclear attacks and ramp up tensions with the U.S.
Pyongyang insists its nuclear weapons program is defensive in nature and necessary to counter the 28,500 American troops stationed across the border.
The two Koreas have been technically in a state of war for more than 60 years. The agreement that ended the 1950-53 civil war hostilities was only a truce.