Kim Jong Un’s Official Accuses US Of ‘Nuclear Blackmail’

North Korea, on Monday, accused the U.S. of ramping up “nuclear blackmail,” as Washington and its Asian allies staged joint naval missile defense exercises.

What Happened: Kim Jong Un‘s ruling party’s Central Military Commission’s vice president, Ri Pyong Chol, in a statement, criticized the U.S. for calling a U.N. Security Council meeting over its intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, test.

Ri dubbed Pyongyang‘s weapons development as a self-defensive measure of defense against Washington. He accused the U.S. of raising regional tensions “to the brink of explosion” with military drills simulating a “pre-emptive nuclear strike and an all-out war” against the North.

After North Korea, on Friday, tested a new solid-fuel ICBM, the U.S., with its allies South Korea and Japan, decided to hold trilateral exercises to improve responses to Pyongyang’s threats.

Kim’s official also called the recent deployment of U.S. strategic bombers near the Korean peninsula “clear evidence that the U.S. nuclear threat and blackmail against us have reached a level that cannot be overlooked.”

“If the U.S. ignores our repeated warnings and continues actions that endanger the security environment of the Korean peninsula, we will take necessary action so that it feels a clearer security crisis and insurmountable threat,” Ri added.

Why It Matters: Although North Korea has done several missile tests, some of which prompted evacuation alerts in Japan, it argues that the extensive U.S. joint drills push the security situation on the Korean Peninsula to “the brink of a nuclear war.”

Kim’s isolated nation describes the joint drills as “rehearsals for invasion by the U.S. and its allies in Seoul.”