The North Korean regime has issued a special statement warning they would launch a pre-emptive strike on the ongoing joint drill by South Korea and the US if there are provocations. Pyongyang said the statement was released by the North Korean government, political parties and organisations.
The North said: "While frantically staging the largest-ever joint military drills, Key Resolve and Foal Eagle 16, against the DPRK throughout South Korea, the enemies are pushing ahead with 'scenario for attack drill part 2,' the key note of which is the 'operation for advance into the northern inland area' targeting the strategic key area of the DPRK," according to the official mouthpiece Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
"Once there is a slight sign of the start of their foolish special operation, the Korean People's Army will promptly launch the battle for pre-emptive attack without hesitation."
The latest warning threatens the joint military exercises in which more than 300,000 South Korean troops and 17,000 American soldiers are taking part. The drills, known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, began on 7 March and the first part of the weeks-long annual event has wrapped up. The second stage of the drill began on 14 March.
This is the largest-ever joint exercises conducted by the two parties in the region in terms of size. Washington has significantly stepped up its muscle-flexing acts in recent months after the defiant Pyongyang carried out its fourth nuclear test and followed it up with a long-range rocket launch.
It is also unclear what the special statement means. A similar statement was issued by the reclusive regime — attributing it to "the government, political parties, and organisations" — in March 2013 when Pyongyang unilaterally declared the two Koreas are in a state of war.
The rival Koreas technically remain at war since the 1950-53 Korean War as the conflict never ended in a peace treaty but only in a temporary truce agreement.