US AND SOUTH KOREA JOINT DRILLS
Live exercise a provocation — North Korea
Seoul — North Korea lashed out on Sunday at a live-fire drill staged by the US and South Korea in a show of force against Pyongyang, accusing Washington of pushing the peninsula to the "tipping point" of nuclear war.
The allies held the rare live-fire drill as tensions grew over the peninsula following the North’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test held last week.
The test sparked global alarm as it suggested North Korea now possessed an ICBM capable of reaching Alaska, a major milestone for the reclusive, nuclear-armed state.
Saturday’s drill, designed to "sternly respond" to potential missile launches by the North, saw two US bombers destroy "enemy" missile batteries and South Korean jets mount precision strikes against underground command posts.
The North’s state-run Rodong newspaper accused Washington and Seoul of ratcheting up tensions with the drill.
"The US, with its dangerous military provocation, is pushing the risk of a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula to a tipping point," it said, describing the peninsula as the "world’s biggest tinderbox". During Saturday’s drill, long-range B-1B Lancer bombers reportedly flew close to the heavily-fortified border between the two Koreas and dropped 900kg bombs.
Pyongyang described the joint drill as a "dangerous military gambit of warmongers who are trying to ignite the fuse of a nuclear war on the peninsula".
"A small misjudgment or error can immediately lead to the beginning of a nuclear war, which will inevitably lead to another world war," it said.
Tension has been high as the US administration under President Donald Trump and the North’s regime under leader Kim Jong-un have exchanged hostile rhetoric for months.
The US Missile Defence Agency said on Friday it would soon test an antiballistic missile system in Alaska.