North Korea's deputy UN ambassador accused the United States on Monday of turning the Korean Peninsula into "the world's biggest hotspot" and creating "a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment." Kim In Ryong told a news conference that "if the US dares opt for a military action," North Korea "is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US," the AP reports. He said the Trump administration's deployment of the Carl Vinson nuclear carrier task group to waters off the Korean Peninsula again "proves the US' reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase of its scenario." Kim stressed that US-South Korean military exercises being staged now are the largest-ever "aggressive war drill" aimed at his country, formally the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"The prevailing grave situation proves once again that the DPRK was entirely just when it increased in every way its military capabilities for self-defense and pre-emptive attack with a nuclear force as a pivot," he said. Tensions have escalated over North Korean moves to accelerate its weapons development. The North conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile tests last year, defying six Security Council sanctions resolutions banning any testing, and it has conducted additional missile tests this year including one this past weekend that failed. Kim spoke on a day that US Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the US and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, "the era of strategic patience is over." (Read more North Korea stories.)