North Korea denounced Washington’s deployment of a US naval strike group to the Korean Peninsula today, warning it was ready for “war” in a further escalation of tensions. The US Navy strike group Carl Vinson cancelled a planned trip to Australia this weekend to head to the region in a show of force against growing threats from the North. “This goes to prove that the US reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase,” said a spokesman for the North’s foreign ministry according to state-run KCNA news agency, in Pyongyang’s first comment since the deployment.
“The DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US,” he said, using the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. President Donald Trump, fresh from ordering a missile strike on Syria that was widely interpreted as a warning to North Korea, has asked his advisors for a range of options to rein in Pyongyang, US officials said on Sunday.
Trump has recently threatened unilateral action against Pyongyang if Beijing fails to help curb its neighbour’s nuclear weapons programme. But Pyongyang’s response suggested the reclusive state was determined to continue on its current path. “We will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms,” the foreign ministry spokesman said, according to KCNA.
Speculation of an imminent nuclear test is brewing as the North marks anniversaries including the 105th birthday of its founding leader on Saturday — sometimes celebrated with a demonstration of military might. Pyongyang is on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year.
Satellite imagery analysis suggests it could be preparing for a sixth, with US intelligence officials warning that Pyongyang could be less than two years away from its ability of striking the continental United States. Seoul and Washington are also conducting joint military drills, an annual exercise which is seen by the North as a practice for war.