North Korea’s foreign ministry described President Donald Trump as a “nuclear demon” who is “begging for war” in a column Tuesday as tensions continue to escalate between Pyongyang and Washington.
The ministry made the comments after the United States and South Korea began a series of large-scale military drills across the Korean peninsula in an annual exercise known as “Vigilante Ace.”
The operation involves drills with 230 aircraft including six immensely powerful F-22 Raptor stealth fighters and B1-B Lancer bombers, accompanied by 12,000 soldiers from both the Marines and the Navy.
“The Trump team is begging for nuclear war by staging an extremely dangerous nuclear gamble on the Korean peninsula,” a DPRK spokesperson said in a statement.
“The international community terms the moves of the U.S. very alarming and is keeping a close watch on them with great concern and anxiety as the U.S. is engrossed in making successive military provocations mobilizing greater amount of its nuclear strategic assets than ever, thereby driving the situation of the Korean peninsula to the brink of crisis,” they continued.
“The facts above evidently show who is the real nuclear war maniac and the ‘nuclear demon’ that disrupts and destroys the peace of the Korean peninsula and the world,” the statement concluded.
According to South Korea’s Defense Ministry, the operation is “aimed at enhancing the all-weather, day and night combined air power operation capabilities of South Korea and the U.S.”
Some of the exercises will involve the simulation wartime scenarios that include neutralizing North Korean nuclear and missile targets.
The exercises follow reports last week that North Korea successfully conducted another ballistic missile launch across Japan as the country continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions, threatening U.S. and South Korea with wholesale nuclear destruction.
However, military officials have denied the exercises are linked to recent tensions and say the operation is scheduled annually.
On Monday, White House National Security advisor H.R. McMaster warned that the possibility of nuclear war was “increasing every day.”
“The greatest immediate threat to the United States and to the world is the threat posed by the rogue regime in North Korea and [Kim Jong-un’s] continued efforts to develop a long-range nuclear capability,” McMaster said.
“I think it’s increasing every day, which means that we’re in a race,” he continued. “It is a race because [Kim Jong-un] is getting closer and closer [to achieving a full nuclear arsenal], and there’s not that much time left.”