North Korea has threatened “indiscriminate” nuclear strikes on the US and South Korea as the two begin their largest ever military drills.
The exercises, Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, are an annual event and always generate tension.
The order for a “pre-emptive nuclear strike of justice” was made in a statement put out by Pyongyang.
Such rhetoric is not uncommon, and experts doubt the North’s ability to put nuclear warheads on its missiles.
North Korea says it sees the annual US-South Korean war games as a rehearsal for invasion. Last year, it threatened to turn Washington into a “sea of fire”.
“We will launch an all-out offensive to decisively counter the US and its followers’ hysteric[al} nuclear war moves,” a newsreader on the state-run North Korean KRT news channel said of the latest exercises.