North Korea has threatened a nuclear response if the US deploys aircraft carriers, bombers, and missile submarines in South Korea, according to a statement shared on Thursday by state media channel KCNA.
Pyongyang claims that despite repeated warnings, Washington and Seoul held a meeting of the “nuclear consultative group” on July 18 to allegedly discuss using nuclear weapons against North Korea.
“In particular, the hostile forces posed the most undisguised and direct nuclear threat to the DPRK [North Korea] by bringing an Ohio-class strategic nuclear submarine to the Busan Port operation base, which means strategic nuclear weapons have been deployed on the Korean peninsula for the first time after 40-odd years,” North Korean Defense Minister Kang Sun-nam said in the statement.
He claimed that the move indicates that the US scenario for a nuclear attack on North Korea had entered “the most critical stage of visualization and systemization.”
Kang accused Washington and Seoul of going “beyond the ‘red line’ in their military hysteria,” and argued that the deployment of nuclear submarines and other strategic assets falls under the conditions for the use of nuclear weapons specified in North Korean military doctrine.
“The DPRK’s doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons allows the execution of necessary action procedures in case a nuclear attack is launched against it or it is judged that the use of nuclear weapons against it is imminent,” Kang said. He also called on the US military to realize that its nuclear assets had entered “extremely dangerous waters.”
The statement came after Pyongyang fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, in response to the docking of the USS Kentucky Ohio-class submarine in the South Korean city of Busan.
Pyongyang and Washington have seen tensions rise in recent months, including over a spate of missile tests by North Korea and large-scale military exercises by US and South Korean forces. North Korean officials have claimed that continued displays of their nation’s military might, including its nuclear weapons program, will ensure peace and stability amid escalating threats from the “gangster-like Americans.”
US officials, meanwhile, have insisted that Washington is willing to negotiate with North Korea “without preconditions” about its nuclear program, and have described the joint military exercises with South Korea as deterrence against possible attacks from Pyongyang.
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