TOKYO, Feb 2 (KUNA) -- North Korea warned on Thursday that it will take the "toughest reaction" to the US move to expand joint military exercises with South Korea, as the Pentagon chief has pledged to deploy more strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula, the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported.
In a statement, Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry claimed the US has been driving the security situation on the peninsula toward an "extreme red-line" and is pushing to spur further tensions through joint military drills of larger scale and scope with South Korea.
North Korea will "take the toughest reaction" to any military action by the US under the principle of "nuke for nuke and an all-out confrontation for an all-out confrontation," the statement said.
"If the US continues to introduce strategic assets into the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding area, the DPRK will make clearer its deterring activities without fail according to their nature," it read, using the acronym of the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The North also said it is ready to counter any military challenges from the US with the "most overwhelming nuclear force," while stressing it is not interested in any dialogue with the US as long as Washington pursues a "hostile policy."
Pyongyang's warning came as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Seoul earlier this week for talks with his South Korean officials and said there would be more deployments of strategic assets, including F-22 and F-35 jets, to Korea in order to deter the North's evolving military threats.
Hours earlier, South Korea and the US staged combined air drills, involving B-1B strategic bombers, F-22 and F-35B stealth fighters, from the USAir Force, in a show of Washington's "will and capabilities" to provide credible extended deterrence against North Korea's military threats, according to the report.
"The combined air drills this time show the US' will and capabilities to provide strong and credible extended deterrence against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats," the South Korean Defense Ministry said in a press release. Extended deterrence means the US' commitment to use a full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear, to defend its ally. (end)