Pyongyang warns of nuclear war as US, South Korea start massive air force drills

Pyongyang/Seoul: North Korea has warned of nuclear war as the US and South Korea began their biggest-ever joint air force exercise called Vigilant Ace involving hundreds of aircraft including two dozen stealth jets.

The drill is a grave military provocation which will push the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war. It only proves the US and South Korean “puppet war maniacs” want to destroy peace and stability in the region, a North Korean spokesman said.

Pyongyang’s nuclear programme is a powerful deterrent to protect its interests. But if the US and South Korea target its nuclear facilities, missile bases and other assets, North Korea will take the “highest-level hard-line countermeasure in history” against them, the spokesman said.

Pyongyang’s warning and the joint drills come a week after North Korea launched a powerful missile capable of striking all of America.

South Korea defended the five-day annual drill saying it will help in further strengthening its striking capabilities during a war.

Six F-22 and 18 F-35 stealth fighter jets and 12,000 US military personnel are participating in the exercise.

US Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday that US is getting close to a conflict as North Korea’s weapons technology matures making pre-emptive war more likely.

White House national security adviser HR McMaster told a defence forum in California on Saturday that while chances of a war are increasing, there are other options. For instance, China can cut oil supplies to North Korea which needs fuel to fire its missiles, he said.