North Korea has warned that joint naval drills by the United States and South Korea, which started on Monday, may trigger an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula.
The remark was made by North Korea’s Ambassador to the United Nations Kim Song, who was addressing the United Nations General Assembly’s annual session in New York.
The warning came after South Korea and the United States began their first combined naval exercise near the peninsula in five years.
The drills started a day after Pyongyang conducted another ballistic missile launch, the latest in its record-breaking weapons tests this year.
The four-day exercise on South Korea's east coast will involve more than 20 vessels and an assortment of aircraft, which will conduct drills for anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare operations, tactical maneuvers and other maritime operations, the navy added.
"Obviously, this is an extremely dangerous act of igniting the fuse to drive the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of war," the North Korean envoy said.
Kim added that the drills by the United States and South Korea "compelled" action by the North.
"The US should clearly understand that its heinous, hostile policy against the DPRK over the past 30 years has brought about today's reality and ask itself and ponder how far it will prolong this situation," he said.
The Pyongyang's ambassador to the UN stated that the security environment of the Korean Peninsula is caught in a vicious cycle of attention and confrontation due to the growing hostility of the United States and its following forces against North Korea.
North Korea has been reeling under US-led international sanctions over its programs to further develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles despite the maintenance of similar programs by other nuclear-armed countries, namely the US, Britain, France, the Israeli regime, Russia, China, India and Pakistan.
Earlier this month, Pyongyang revised its nuclear law, enshrining a "first strike" doctrine and vowing never to give up its nuclear arsenal in face of the persisting military threats posed by Washington and Seoul.
Pyongyang has frequently protested against joint military exercises involving Seoul and Washington, calling them rehearsals for invasion despite Washington's mantra of diplomacy.
South Korea's hawkish President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has vowed to beef up joint military exercises with the United States, after years of failed diplomacy with North Korea under his predecessor.
The two countries have long carried out joint exercises, which they insist are purely defensive, but North Korea sees them as rehearsals for an invasion.