Pyongyang has warned that the US and South Korean joint military exercises may lead to “actual war.”
Addressing a UN-sponsored conference on disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday, North Korean diplomat Ju Yong Choi referred to the drills as “massive and unprecedented” and stressed that they were a “major cause of escalation of tension that might turn into actual war."
On March 1, Washington and Seoul kicked off massive annual joint military drills, with the presence of some 300,000 South Korean troops and nearly 17,000 American forces along with strategic US warships and air force resources.
The remarks were made shortly after the US announced that the first parts of its THAAD missile system were deployed in South Korea.
Washington bumped up the advanced missile system’s deployment after Pyongyang announced that its latest missile tests were practice for attacking US military bases in Japan.
On Monday, Pyongyang launched four missiles, three of which according to Tokyo went down in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
- North Korea ‘fires four ballistic missiles, three land in Japanese waters’
- North Korea says preparing to attack US bases in Japan
UNSC strongly condemns N Korea missile test
In a Tuesday statement, the United Nations Security Council stressed that it deplored Pyongyang’s missile launches, adding that "such activities contribute to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's development of nuclear weapons delivery systems and increase tension in the region and beyond as well as the risk of a regional arms race."
The North has been under a UN sanctions regime and arms embargo aimed at blocking its development of nuclear and missile programs since 2006.
Following Pyongyang's five nuclear tests, the council has increased sanctions on the country. In its latest statement, the council vowed to "take further significant measures."
"The members of the Security Council further regretted that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is diverting resources to the pursuit of ballistic missiles while Democratic People's Republic of Korea citizens have great unmet needs," it said.
The statement was released ahead of an emergency UNSC meeting scheduled for Wednesday that is to be convened by the request of the US and Japan.