North Korea’s deputy United Nations ambassador said a “thermonuclear war may break out at any moment,” accusing the United States of escalating the situation in a news conference on Monday.
Kim In Ryong called the news conference to reject the U.S.’s open meeting request of the security council. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hoped to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program.
As tensions escalate over North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, Kim said North Korea is ready to attack should the U.S. take any military action. He called a recent U.S. and South Korean military exercise the largest “aggressive war drill” aimed at North Korea. Kim said North Korea is once again justified in amplifying its nuclear program as the U.S. looks to bring down its socialist system.
“We never beg for peace but we will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep to the road chosen by ourselves,” Kim said.
North Korea’s accusations come as Vice President Mike Pence traveled to South Korea to warn Pyongyang that “the era of strategic patience is over.”
Pence assured the U.S. would react with “an overwhelming and effective response” should North Korea attack.
Despite security council sanctions banning any nuclear testing, North Korea conducted a missile test just this weekend. Pence confirmed during his trip to the peninsula that the U.S. will continue its plan to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea, despite opposition from China.
The THAAD system is capable of shooting down ballistic missiles. According to Lockheed Martin’s website, it is one of the most advanced defense systems in the world. The deployment of the missile defense system is projected to cost nearly $1 billion.