US soldiers patrol near a Bradley armored vehicle during a joint military drill between South Korea and the US, Paju, near the inter-Korean border, June 8, 2011.
North Korea has threatened to launch a “sacred war” in reaction to upcoming joint military maneuvers by the US and South Korea.
Denouncing the military exercises as a “silent declaration of war”, North Korea’s National Defense Commission (NDC) cited the move as a “blatant challenge to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.”
The United States and South Korea are planning two joint military exercises, the "Key Resolve" and the "Foal Eagle," starting next week until the end of April.
“Key Resolve and Foal Eagle are unpardonable war hysteria kicked up by the hooligans to desecrate our mourning period and an unpardonable infringement upon our sovereignty and dignity," the NDC said in a statement.
The US and South Korea have conducted numerous massive joint sea and air drills in waters east of the Korean Peninsula.
Earlier last week, Pyongyang made similar threats against Seoul ahead of a live-fire military drill near the disputed sea boundary between the two Koreas, warning that it would shell the islands.
Seoul, however, conducted the two-hour drills last week on Monday in waters off South Korea's western-border islands of Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong.
"Our army and people will foil the moves of the group of traitors to the nation and warmongers at home and abroad for a new war with a sacred war of our own style," the statement added.
In November 2010, Seoul and Pyongyang exchanged artillery fire in the Yellow Sea border island of Yeonpyeong. The fighting left four South Koreans, including two civilians, dead. Each side blames the other for initiating the clash.
Pyongyang usually views such exercises as a rehearsal for invasion, and launches its own counter-maneuvers. It accuses US President Barack Obama of plotting with regional allies to topple the country's government.