North Korea has vowed to cancel the 1953 ceasefire that ended the Korean War, citing a US-led push for punishing UN sanctions over its recent nuclear test and ongoing US-South Korean joint military drills.
Without elaborating, the Korean People's Army Supreme Command warned on Tuesday of "surgical strikes" meant to unify the divided Korean Peninsula and of an indigenous, "precision nuclear striking tool."
The statement came amid reports that Washington and North Korean ally Beijing approved a draft of a UN Security Council resolution calling for sanctions in response to North Korea's February 12 nuclear test.
The draft is expected to be circulated at the UN this week.
Such heated military rhetoric and threats are common from North Korea as tensions rise on the Korean Peninsula, and Pyongyang's recent nuclear test and rocket launches, and the push for UN punishment that have followed, have increased already high animosity between the North and Washington and ally Seoul.
The United States and others worry that North Korea's third nuclear test pushes it a step closer toward its goal of having nuclear-armed missiles that can reach America, and condemn its nuclear and missile efforts as threats to regional security and a drain on the resources that could go to North Korea's largely destitute people.
Blunt aggression and military acts
North Korea says its nuclear programme is a response to US hostility that dates back to the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula still technically in a state of war.
North Korea warned it would cancel the armistice agreement on March 11 because of ongoing US-South Korean military drills that began March 1 which the statement called a "dangerous nuclear war targeted at us."
North Korea said Washington and others were going beyond mere economic sanctions and expanding into blunt aggression and military acts.
North Korea also warned that it would block a communications line between it and the United States at the border village separating the two Koreas.
"We aim to launch surgical strikes at any time and any target without being bounded by the armistice accord and advance our long-cherished wish for national unification," the statement said.
North Korea lays the blame for its much-condemned nuclear weapons programmes on the United States.
A rich vein of North Korean propaganda fueled by decades-old American threats holds that the North remains at risk of an unprovoked nuclear attack.
Washington and others say brinksmanship is the North's true motive for the nuclear push.