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Tuesday, February 23, 2016, 21:17

DPRK warns against US, ROK military exercises

By Reuters

DPRK warns against US, ROK military exercises
US Navy crew members walk on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, during a joint naval drill between the ROK and the US in the West Sea off the ROK on Oct 28, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Kim Hong-Ji)

SEOUL - The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea warned on Tuesday of harsh retaliation against the Republic of Korea and its ally the United States, which are preparing for annual joint military exercises next month amid heightened tensions following the North's nuclear test and rocket launch.

The North calls the annual exercises preparations for war and routinely vows to retaliate.

"All the powerful strategic and tactical strike means of our revolutionary armed forces will go into preemptive and just operation to beat back the enemy forces to the last man if there is a slight sign of their special operation forces and equipment moving to carry out the so-called 'beheading operation' and 'high-density strike,'" the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army said in a statement carried by state media.

It said its first target would be the ROK’s presidential Blue House, while US military bases in Asia and on the US mainland would be its secondary targets. About 28,500 US troops are based in the ROK.

Last week, ROK President Park Geun-hye warned of tough measures against the North following its January nuclear test and its long-range rocket launch this month, saying Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear weapons would speed the collapse of the regime.

The ROK and the United States say both actions were violations of UN Security Council resolutions, and are pushing for further sanctions.

Days after the rocket launch, the ROK suspended the operation of the Kaesong industrial zone just north of the border, which had been run jointly with the North for more than a decade.

The DPRK and and the ROK are still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.

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