Tensions escalated along the Korean Peninsula early in December as U.S. stealth fighters prepared for a joint military drill with South Korea, with North Korea accusing the U.S. of having "nuclear war mania."
North Korea made several statements about actions taken by the U.S. over the weekend.
North Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement, read on state TV, that President Donald Trump and his administration were "begging for nuclear war" by engaging in what the statement referred to as an "extremely dangerous nuclear gamble," CNN reported.
The statement also said that if the Korean Peninsula and the world were to be pushed to nuclear war, the U.S. would be "fully responsible" because of its "reckless nuclear war mania."
Then, on Dec. 3rd, commentary run by state TV called the U.S.-South Korea joint air exercises a "dangerous provocation," pushing the region "to the brink of a nuclear war," according to CNN. North Korean media regularly threatens the U.S. and its allies and blames the U.S. for tensions on the peninsula.
The U.S. and its ally South Korea began their largest cooperative air exercise in history, dubbed Vigilant Ace, Dec. 4.
The U.S. Air Force said in a statement that F-22 and F-35 stealth jets had moved into South Korea over the weekend in preparation for the joint drill. About 230 aircraft and 12,000 U.S. personnel are expected to participate in the week-long exercise, which will include more stealth jets than ever before.
Four U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II's from the 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi down the runway at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 3, 2017, during exercise VIGILANT ACE 18. The annual exercise featured 12,000 U.S. personnel working alongside members of the Republic of Korea Air Force at eight U.S. and ROK military installations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Joshua Rosales)
According to the U.S. Air Force, the move is designed to boost the "combat effectiveness" of the alliance.
The White House national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Dec. 2 the chances for nuclear war on the peninsula were growing, CNN reported.
"I think it's increasing every day, which means that we are in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem," McMaster said in a conference in California, when asked whether North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile launch last week had increased the chance of war.
McMaster also said North Korea represented the "the greatest immediate threat to the United States."