Pyongyang has denounced Washington's "reckless" naval deployment off the Korean peninsula, warning it would "react to any mode of war." A US naval strike group has made a detour to the west Pacific.
North Korea's foreign ministry announced via the state-run KCNA news agency on Tuesday that the US would be "wholly accountable" for any military moves, after Washington deployed a naval strike group to the west Pacific in a show of force directed at Pyongyang's nuclear program capabilities.
"The US' reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase. The DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US," the spokesman said, using the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"We will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms," the spokesman said.
The Carl Vinson strike group, which includes an aircraft carrier and other warships, canceled a trip to Australia and headed from Singapore to the waters off Korea this weekend as part of the US' response to North Korea's recent missile launches.
A spokesman for the US Pacific Command said the change in course was "a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific," where recently conducted exercises with the South Korean Navy have been described by Pyongyang as a rehearsal for invasion.
The spokesman added that North Korea continues to be a threat "due to its… pursuit of nuclear weapons."
North's nuclear proliferation
Despite repeated rounds of UN sanctions, North Korea has staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and continues to defy pressure from the international community to curb its efforts of developing a nuclear warhead that could reach the US.
Intelligence officials estimate that North Korea could be less than two years away from striking the US.
Satellite images, meanwhile, suggests the North could be preparing to launch another round of tests to mark the birth anniversary on Saturday of the late supreme leader, Kim Il-Sung.
South Korea's top nuclear envoy has said Seoul and Beijing would work together and take additional measures if Pyongyang goes ahead with additional provocations, while US President Donald Trump has threatened unilateral action against Pyongyang if Beijing fails to help curb its neighbor's nuclear weapons program.
smm/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)