Geneva: North Korea on Tuesday warned that it had the capability to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the US, "if necessary", following joint US-South Korea military drills earlier this week.
In a speech to the UN-backed multilateral nuclear negotiating body, Conference on Disarmament, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong said, "Now the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) has the capability to deter the US and conduct a preemptive strike as well, if necessary".
Ri blamed the US for the "hostile policy towards DPRK for over half a century, not just a couple of years, that compelled the DPRK to pursue nuclear possession. The DPRK cannot but bolster its nuclear deterrent capability to cope with the ever increasing nuclear threat of the US".
North Korea is particularly irked with the joint military drills between South Korea and the US that kicked off yesterday.
Ri said the military exercises were "unprecedentedly provocative in nature" and could lead to war.
Referring to the Korean peninsula as a "touch-and-go nuclear powder-keg" Ri said that the threat to North Korea is not abstract as strategic nuclear bombers fly non-stop from the US mainland or Guam peninsula and stage drills dropping bombs several times a year.
North Korea under supreme leader Kim Jong-Un had fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea in retaliation to the joint exercises between the US and South Korea, which has been a perpetual source of tension.
Ri claimed that the North Korean leader, however, prioritises the efforts to bring a "great national unity" in inter-Korean relations based on the common interests of both the nations in 2015.