North Korea lambasted the U.S. and South Korea on Sunday for bringing the countries to the “brink of a nuclear war” a day before the allies begin a joint military drill in a defiant show of force against Kim Jong Un less than a week after the regime launched an intercontinental ballistic missile.
North Korea’s state-run newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, wrote in a commentary Sunday the upcoming military drill is an “all out provocation against” the rogue nation that “may lead to a nuclear war at any moment.”
“Such drill is a dangerous provocation as it is driving the tension on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war,” the commentary said. “The U.S. and the South Korean puppet forces are so foolish as to run amok with such stealth fighters.”
It added, “The stealth fighters, which the enemies boast so much of, will not escape the fate of a tiger moth.”
A spokesman for North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country — an organization focused on reunifying the North and the South — also said “insane President Trump is running wild” in a statement released by the state’s Korean Central News Agency.
“The situation clearly proves that the U.S. and the South Korean puppet war maniacs are just aggressors and provocateurs breaking peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the region and that the DPRK was entirely just when it decided to invariably take the path of simultaneously developing the two fronts in order to bolster up its war deterrent in every way,” the spokesman said, according to KCNA.
U.S. and South Korea are expected to begin a five-day military drill, called Vigilant Ace, on Monday, less than a week after Kim ordered officials to launch the Hwasong-15 ICBM in the middle of the night that landed in the Sea of Japan. About 12,000 U.S. troops will join South Korean forces, along with 230 aircraft, will participate in the drill, according to Reuters. The drill, used to simulate wartime defenses, was scheduled before Wednesday’s missile launch.
A U.S. Air Force official also said F-22 stealth fighters and F-5 aircraft will partake.
Kim was pictured visiting a factory in North Korea that built the tires for a huge vehicle used to transport the Hwasong-15 ICBM, the state media reported on Saturday. Kim thanked workers for manufacturing the large-size tires for the 9-axle missile truck without relying on imported equipment and called for efforts to raise production to “satisfy the daily-increasing needs in developing the country’s economy and beefing up national defense capabilities,” KCNA said in a statement.
Kim in September tasked the Amnokgang Tire Factory to make the tires for the “great event in November,” the agency reported.
North Koreans held a massive rally on Friday to celebrate the success of Wednesday’s missile test, putting on a firework display at Pyongyang. North Korea released photos of the Hwasong-15, confirming to experts the ICBM was a newly built missile and “significantly more” powerful than its predecessor, the Hwasong-14. Kim also boasted that the ICBM has the ability to reach the “entire U.S. mainland” with a nuclear warhead strapped to it.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Friday that the ICBM was potentially capable of striking targets as far away as 8,100 miles, which would put Washington within reach. A U.S. official told Fox News Saturday the missile did not survive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere — a feat North Korea has been attempting to perfect.
Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.