A chief North Korean military general said Friday that his troops will not remain a "passive onlooker" if South Korea and the United States continue their joint military exercise, according to Pyongyang's official news agency.
The threat from Ri Yong-ho, vice marshal of the Korean People's Army, came at a ceremony to celebrate the 18th anniversary of the election of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il as chairman of the National Defense Commission, the KCNA said in a dispatch monitored here.
The report said that the North's No. 2 leader Kim Yong-nam and other senior officials of the Workers' Party attended the event, hinting that Kim Jong-il was absent.
"The army and people of the DPRK will never remain a passive onlooker" to the ongoing joint military drills between South Korea and the U.S., the KCNA quoted Ri as saying. The DPRK is the acronym for the communist nation's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Ri added that his military will "resolutely frustrate" the allied forces with the might of "Songun," which means a military-first approach, according to the mouthpiece of the reclusive regime.
The annual Key Resolve/Foal Eagle drills started on Feb. 28 for a two-month run, the first of their kind since North Korea's deadly artillery attack on the southern island of Yeonpyeong last November that killed two marines and two civilians.
About 12,800 U.S. troops and more than 200,000 South Korean troops take part in the training, which both Seoul and Washington say are aimed at bolstering defense readiness but Pyongyang routinely criticizes as preparations for assault.