North Korea said it was "ready for war" and warned of "catastrophic consequences" on Tuesday, just days after the U.S. sent a Navy strike group to the western Pacific Ocean off the Korean peninsula.
"We will hold the U.S. wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions," a foreign ministry spokesman said, according to the hermit kingdom's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). "[North Korea] is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S."
The Guardian reports:
The spokesman cited Washington's refusal to rule out a preemptive strike against North Korean missile sites as justification for its nuclear program.
"The prevailing grave situation proves once again that [North Korea] was entirely just when it increased in every way its military capabilities for self-defense and preemptive attack with a nuclear force as a pivot," the spokesman said, according to KCNA.
"We will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms."
Reuters also reported the country's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper as saying, "Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the U.S. invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theater but also in the U.S. mainland."
The developments come just days after President Donald Trump approved an airstrike in Syria, which many also saw as a show of strength to North Korea, which fired a ballistics missile test just days before a U.S.-China summit last week.
Trump on Tuesday reiterated that the U.S. was prepared to act alone if China did not pressure its neighbor into dropping its nuclear weapons program.
White House officials have previously said that "all options," including a preemptive strike, are on the table when it comes to dealing with North Korea.