A North Korean official on Monday blasted the deployment of a battle-ready U.S. strike group to the waters off the Korean Peninsula — and pledged that the Communist dictatorship is “ready” for war.
The explosive response from Pyongyang comes as tensions on the peninsula are escalating because of intensified cooperation between the U.S. and South Korea. The intensification came to a head when the U.S. Navy’s Carl Vinson strike group received orders on Sunday to cancel a planned Australia trip and redirect to Korean waters.
As the strike group approached North Korea late Monday, a spokesman for the isolated country’s foreign ministry called the U.S. decision “outrageous” and vowed that it could provoke “catastrophic consequences.”
“This goes to prove that the U.S. reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase of its scenario,” the spokesman said in a statement, using an acronym for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “If the U.S. dares opt for a military action, crying out for ‘preemptive attack’ and ‘removal of the headquarters,’ the DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.”
The aggressive reaction comes shortly after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the recent retaliatory U.S. missile strike against a Syrian air base carries a message for any nation operating outside of international norms.
While Tillerson didn’t specifically mention North Korea, the context appeared clear.
“If you violate international agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken,” Tillerson told ABC’s “This Week.”
Pyongyang has long claimed that its nuclear weapons program is justified because the U.S. is supposedly plotting an attack.
But officials insist that the U.S. has never planned a nuclear attack on the Communist nation.
Despite North Korea’s warmongering response, American Navy ships are not uncommon in the Korean region. They mostly circulate in the area as a show of force. On Saturday, the Pentagon said the Carl Vinson group was being deployed to the area in order to establish a stronger physical presence.
The Trump administration has recently been pushing China to actively counteract North Korea’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
North Korea, meanwhile, has continued to cite supposed American aggression as the reason for its nuclear developments.
In his New Year address, the North’s volatile leader, Kim Jong Un, said the country will soon be capable of testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach mainland U.S.