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North Korea issues trademark fiery rhetoric over US-South Korea drills

In this undated photo distributed on Friday, April 14, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, watches a military drill at an undisclosed location. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this photo, distributed via the Korean Central News Agency and the Korea News Service. Tensions are deepening as the U.S. has sent the USS Carl Vinson to waters off the Korean peninsula and is conducting its biggest-ever joint military exercises with South Korea. North Korea recently launched a ballistic missile and some experts say it could conduct another nuclear test at virtually anytime. Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's military unleashed its standard fiery threats to greet the start of annual U.S.-South Korean military drills that the North claims are an invasion rehearsal.

The North Korean rhetoric Tuesday came as top U.S. generals, including Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, visited South Korea.

The U.S. generals were to travel to the site of a contentious U.S. missile-defense system in South Korea later Tuesday.

The North's military says it will launch an unspecified "merciless retaliation and unsparing punishment" on the United States over the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills that began Monday.

North Korea has previously issued similar warlike rhetoric whenever U.S. and South Korean troops conducted major joint exercises.

An unprompted direct attack is extremely unlikely because the United States vastly outguns Pyongyang.

 
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