PYONGYANG — North Korea on Saturday threatened South Korea with "indiscriminate" military strikes unless it halts cross-border propaganda broadcasts, and issued fresh nuclear weapons warnings against the United States.
They also coincided with celebrations in both Koreas to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean peninsula's 1945 liberation from Japanese colonial rule.
Initially there were hopes the anniversary might be an opportunity for some sort of inter-Korean rapprochement, but instead ties have spiralled downwards to the familiar accompaniment of angry rhetoric and mutual recrimination.
After three landmine blasts maimed two South Korean soldiers on border patrol, Seoul this week resumed high-decibel propaganda broadcasts across the heavily-militarised frontier, using batteries of loudspeakers that had lain silent for more than a decade.
Pyongyang rejected accusations that it was behind the mine incident as "absurd", and its frontline army border command on Saturday demanded the broadcasts be halted immediately.
On Saturday, the North's powerful National Defence Commission threatened the United States with the "strongest military counter-action" should the joint exercise go ahead.
The North Korean army and people "are no longer what they used to be in the past when they had to counter the US nukes with rifles," the commission said in a statement.
It is now an "invincible power equipped with both latest offensive and defensive means ... including nuclear deterrence," it said. — AFP