North Korea has said war has been made inevitable by threats from the United States and huge military drills which are currently being conducted by the US and South Korea.
An unnamed North Korean foreign ministry official said the outbreak of war has become “an established fact” in a statement published in official media.
“The remaining question now is: when will the war break out,” the spokesman added.
The official blamed “confrontational warmongering” and “the largest-ever joint aerial drill” by the US and South Korea for pushing the peninsula to the brink of war.
The statement, which was published by North Korea’s KCNA news agency, made reference to comments from Mike Pompeo, the CIA director, who said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un does not understand how serious the current situation is in North-east Asia.
“Worse still,” the North Korean official said. “The CIA director has made a provocation against us by impudently criticizing our supreme leadership which is the heart of our people.”
Tensions have escalated in recent months, and Pyongyang carried out its latest provocation last week with the launch of its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile.
The US and South Korea on Monday began joint drills involving the US military’s top-rated stealth jets and its supersonic B-1B bomber.
Aircraft involved in the drills, which last until Friday, were carrying out simulated precision attacks on the North’s military installations, South Korean military officials said.
The manœuvres were heavily criticised by North Korea.
“The large-scale nuclear war exercises conducted by the U.S. in succession are creating touch-and-go situation on the Korean peninsula,” the North Korean official said. “We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it.”
Sources from both the US and North Korea said over the weekend that the possibility of war is growing every day.
China also staged its own drills near the Korean peninsula. Officials said Chinese aircraft had flown in “regions that we have never been to before”.
Beijing did not reveal when it carried out its aerial exercise, but it has been seen as a warning to the US and South Korea not to push Pyongyang too far.
China sent an envoy to North Korea last month, however the senior official did not have a meeting with Kim, suggesting that there are differences between the historic allies.
A UN envoy who is currently visiting Pyongyang met with the North’s foreign minister on Thursday, official media said.
Jeffrey Feltman, the UN undersecretary-general for political affairs, met with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on the second full day of his visit, although there was no details on what the pair discussed.
Meanwhile, Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN cast doubt on the US team’s attendance at the Winter Olympics in South Korea, saying that it was an “open question”.
— Neil Connor (@neilaconnor) November 29, 2017
Her comments were seen as a signal that the US believes its team cannot be protected from North Korean special operations squads by South Korean security during the games, which will be held in February.
“(It) implies that our South Korean allies aren't up to the job,” Richard Bitzinger, a military expert at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said.
“It’s basically an insult,” he told The Telegraph.