North Korea has said it does not "wish for a war but shall not hide from it" as the country lambasted American officials for stepping up their threats and military assertions in the Korean peninsula.

The North Korean foreign ministry said recent developments, massive aerial drills and remarks made by high-ranking US authorities, indicate Washington is inching towards provoking a full-fledged conflict against Pyongyang.

A spokesman for the ministry said the "confrontational warmongering" by US officials cannot be interpreted in any way other than the US' preparations for a war against the North.

"We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it, and should the US miscalculate our patience and light the fuse for a nuclear war, we will surely make the US dearly pay the consequences with our mighty nuclear force which we have consistently strengthened," said the spokesman, according to a report carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"The large-scale nuclear war exercises conducted by the US in succession are creating touch-and-go situation on the Korean peninsula and series of violent war remarks coming from the US high-level politicians amid such circumstances have made an outbreak of war on the Korean peninsula an established fact," said the spokesman, "The remaining question now is: when will the war break out."

The North was referring to the ongoing massive aerial drills jointly conducted by the US and South Korea during when more than 230 warplanes are being mobilised as a show of force against the reclusive Kim Jong-un regime.

Top US authorities have also issued strong warnings in recent days after the defiant North launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on 29 November. While the US National Security Adviser HR McMaster said the possibility of an all-out war with North Korea is "increasing every day", CIA chief Mike Pompeo warned Kim is in a precarious position.

Responding to the US warnings, the North, known for its bellicose rhetoric, said: "If the US does not want to be burnt to death by the fire it ignites, it would better behave with prudence and caution."

Kim Jong-un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo REUTERS/KCNA