Kim Jong Un has told North Korea to prepare for war with the United States just before his country's military fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea in response to naval drills which will be carried out by the U.S. and South Korea.
"The prevailing situation where a great war for national reunification is at hand requires all the KPA (Korean People's Army) units to become (elite) Guard Units fully prepared for war politically and ideologically, in military technique and materially," the state Korean Central News Agency quotes Kim as saying during the opening of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang.
The AFP reports that the North Korean leader also encouraged his military to train harder in order "to tear to pieces the Stars and Stripes."
Kim's comments were made just before two missiles launched from North Korea's west coast landed in waters off the east coast, according to South Korea's Defense Ministry. Spokesman Kim Min-seok called the launches an "armed protest" against the South Korea-U.S. naval drills conducted Friday, which involved ten South Korea war ships and a U.S. Aegis destroyer. According to the AFP, the military exercise was in preparation for a much larger drill, which will include 200,000 Korean and 3,700 U.S. troops.
The annual drills have previously angered North Korea, which sees them as a threat to its national security despite the South Korean and U.S. government's claims that the military exercises are focused only on defense.
"The only means to cope with the aggression and war by the U.S. imperialists and their followers is neither dialogue nor peace. They should be dealt with only by merciless strikes," an unidentified spokesman for the North Korean military's general staff said in a statement carried by state media.
The spokesman also insisted that the U.S.-South Korean drills are aimed at destroying the capital city of Pyongyang and unseating its leadership.
In December, the North Korean government declared that it is ready to battle the United States following accusations that it was responsible for the hack on Sony Pictures. At the time, the film studio was temporarily forced to cancel the release of "The Interview," a comedy controversially depicting Kim's death.
"The army and people of the DPRK are fully ready to stand in confrontation with the U.S. in all war spaces including cyber warfare space to blow up those citadels," the Policy Department of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK said at the time.
"Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism, by far surpassing the 'symmetric counteraction' declared by [President Barack] Obama."