North Korea lashed out at South Korea and the United States Saturday, warning that their upcoming joint military exercises would push the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war.
South Korea and the U.S. plan to jointly stage major military maneuvers, called Key Resolve, from Feb. 27 to March 9, with about 200,000 South Korean and 2,100 U.S. troops participating.
Separately, the two allies plan to hold the Foal Eagle joint military exercise from March 1 to April 30. The Marines of two countries will also hold a joint landing exercise in March, the largest of its kind in 23 years.
South Korea and the U.S. regularly hold military exercises to bolster their readiness against a possible North Korean invasion. The communist North has a track record of military provocations against South Korea.
Still, North Korea routinely denounces military drills in the South as rehearsals for a northward invasion.
"The Key Resolve is a nuclear war rehearsal for aggression" on the North, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said in a commentary. The North often releases its position on South Korea or the United States through its state media.
The commentary also claimed that "the exercises will deteriorate the critical inter-Korean relations and drive the tension of the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war."
Tensions still persist on the divided Korean Peninsula over the North's two deadly attacks on the South in 2010.
The commentary also warned that the North will "mercilessly punish those gangsters who rush into a house of mourning with a flaming torch of aggression," noting that North Koreans are still mourning the death last month of their leader Kim Jong-il.
About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in an armistice, rather than a peace treaty. (Yonhap)