North Korea’s military chief Tuesday said Pyongyang is ready to “mount a preemptive nuclear attack” on South Korea and the United States.
The statement comes after the allies confirmed the deployment of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and warships to the peninsula.
Hwang Pyong-so, the North’s effective number two behind leader Kim Jong-un, made the threat during a live broadcast on state television ahead of 105th anniversary of the birth of late national founder Kim Il-sung.
He insisted North Korea will “wipe them out without a trace if they attempt to launch a war of aggression.”
A day earlier, Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry announced it would “hold the U.S. wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions.”
While the 1950-53 Korean War never technically ended because there was no agreed peace treaty, Seoul’s Defense Ministry countered Tuesday by warning the public not to get carried away by rumors of a renewed conflict.
A ministry spokesperson quoted by Yonhap News Agency said the notion of a looming war crisis was an “overblown assessment.”
Concerns have been rising among South Korean netizens that the U.S. might strike North Korea following its recent move to fire dozens of cruise missiles on a Syrian air base.
But Seoul officials have reiterated there will be no American action against the North without first discussing the matter with South Korea.