North Korea says a large joint military drill between South Korea and the United States has made "an outbreak of war" on the Korean peninsula "an established fact."
"The remaining question now is: when will the war break out?" a spokesman for the North's Foreign Ministry asked Thursday in a statement issued through state-run KCNA news agency. "We do not wish for a war, but shall not hide from it."
Pyongyang issued the warning as a U.S. B-1B aerial bomber flew over South Korea as part of Vigilant Ace, this week's joint U.S.-South Korean aerial exercise involving hundreds of warplanes, including an unusually large number of the latest generations of American stealth fighter jets.
The annual exercise comes a week after North Korea test-fired a powerful new intercontinental ballistic missile experts say is capable of reaching the United States. The firing of the new ICBM is one of several missile tests conducted by Pyongyang - along with a series of nuclear tests - in defiance of international sanctions.
The high tensions on the peninsula prompted Jeffrey Feltman, the United Nations' political affairs chief, to make a rare trip to Pyongyang this week for talks with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Vice Minister Pak Myong Guk.