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PYONGYANG, March 3. /TASS/. North Korea condemned the United States and South Korea on Tuesday for staging joint military drills, an annual exercise usually sparking protest from North Korean authorities.
The North's Committee for Peaceful Reunification of Korea, handling Pyongyang's ties with Seoul, said that by launching war drills against the North together with the US, "the opportunity for North-South dialogue and improvement of relations has already passed and there will only be a final stand-off by force".
A committee statement warned of "the toughest measures" to retaliate against the exercises, including "all ground, sea, underwater, air and cyber-striking means", adding that the country's armed forces "are fully ready" to strike their designated targets.
Actions of the US and South Korea "jeopardise regional peace and stability and spur tensions in northeast Asia," the committee said, noting that while manoeuvres continued "the Korean nation can neither lead a peaceful life nor evade the nuclear holocaust".
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong warned on Tuesday in a speech to the UN-backed Conference on Disarmament in Geneva that his country had the power to deter an "ever-increasing nuclear threat" by the United States and conduct "a pre-emptive strike" if necessary, according to Reuters news agency.
Ri was quoted by Reuters as saying that joint military exercises being staged by South Korea and the United States were "unprecedentedly provocative in nature and have an especially high possibility of sparking off a war".
The annual US-South Korean drills are divided into two phases: 'Key Resolve', which runs from March 2 to 13, and 'Foal Eagle', running from March 2 to April 24. ‘Key Resolve’ will involve about 10,000 South Korean and 8,600 U.S. troops while ‘Foal Eagle’ will mobilise about 200,000 South Korean and 3,700 US servicemen.