Mon | Nov 20, 2017

North Korea says US carrier groups raise nuclear war threat

Published:Tuesday | November 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) is escorted into Busan port, South Korea, after completing a joint drill with the South Korean military.

UNITED NATIONS (AP):

North Korea warned yesterday that the unprecedented deployment of three United States aircraft carrier groups "taking up a strike posture" around the Korean peninsula is making it impossible to predict when nuclear war will break out.

North Korea's United Nations Ambassador Ja Song Nam said in a letter to Secretary General Antonio Gutteres yesterday that the joint military exercises with South Korea are creating "the worst ever situation prevailing in and around the Korean peninsula."

Along with the three carrier groups, he said the US has reactivated round-the-clock sorties with nuclear-capable B-52 strategic bombers "which existed during the Cold War times".

He also said the US is maintaining "a surprise strike posture with frequent flight of B-1B and B-2 formations to the airspace of South Korea.

"The large-scale nuclear war exercises and blackmails, which the US staged for a whole year without a break in collaboration with its followers to stifle our republic, make one conclude that the option we have taken was the right one and we should go along the way to the last," Ja said.

He didn't elaborate on what "the last" might be, but North Korea has launched ballistic missiles that have the potential to strike the US mainland, and it recently conducted its largest-ever underground nuclear explosion. It has also threatened to explode another nuclear bomb above the Pacific Ocean.

The four-day joint naval exercises by the US and South Korea, which began Saturday in waters off the South's eastern coast, were described by military officials as a clear warning to North Korea. They involve the carrier battle groups of the USS Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt and Nimitz, which include 11 US Aegis ships that can track missiles, and seven South Korean naval vessels.

Seoul's military said in a statement that the exercises aim to enhance the combined U.S. and South Korean operational and aerial strike capabilities and to display "strong will and firm military readiness to defeat any provocation by North Korea with dominant force in the event of crisis".