North Korea put its military on full combat alert as US and South Korean troops began a major joint exercise on Monday. Pyongyang also warned that any attempt to block its upcoming satellite launch would spark a war.
The communist state also severed its last communications channel with South Korea for the duration of the 12-day exercise, which Pyongyang has branded a rehearsal for invasion. Last week the North threatened South Korean civilian airlines using its airspace, forcing them to re-route flights.
The North Korean military described the exercise as "unprecedented in the number of the aggressor forces involved and in duration. The KPA (Korean People's Army) Supreme Command issued an order to all service persons to be fully combat-ready," it said in a statement carried by official media. "A war will break out if the US imperialists and the warmongers of the South Korean puppet military hurl the huge troops and sophisticated strike means to mount an attack."
Meanwhile the new US envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, said "We are hopeful that we can see the resumption of the six-party process in the relatively near future."