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Joint exercises prompt new nuclear threat from North Korea

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Pyongyang, March 7, 2016: North Korea warned it would make a “preemptive and offensive nuclear strike” in response to joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises that began Monday.

The news was announced in a statement by the National Defense Commission of North Korea and published in the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

“As the joint military exercises to be staged by the enemies are regarded as the most undisguised nuclear war drills aimed to infringe upon the sovereignty of the DPRK, its military counteraction will be more preemptive and offensive nuclear strike to cope with them,” the statement read.

The bellicose words are typical around the time of annual military exercises, according to CNN’s Paula Hancocks.

“They (North Korea) have threatened this before, and these kinds of threats are to be expected this time of year,” she said.

But Hancocks noted that tensions this year are even higher than normal following recent action at the United Nations.

The North Korean news agency has blasted the sanctions as “unprecedented and gangster-like.”

Discussions about new sanctions started after North Korea claimed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb in January, its fourth nuclear test.

Then, in February, Pyongyang said it had successfully launched an Earth satellite into orbit via the long-range Kwangmyongsong carrier rocket.