The United States and South Korea are preparing for their largest joint military manoeuvres ever despite threats from North Korea, media reports said Sunday.
This year's annual spring joint exercises, due to start Monday and last until the end of April, are expected to include 300,000 South Korean and 15,000 US soldiers, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing military sources.
There was no immediate confirmation for the start of manoeuvres from the US-South Korea Combined Forces Command (CFC).
Pyongyang considers the annual joint exercises a provocation and accuses the US of using them to surreptitiously prepare an attack on North Korea with the help of South Korea. North and South Korea technically remain at war and feud frequently, sometimes resulting in deaths.
On Sunday, the North's official news agency KCNA said the US was determined to turn the Korean Peninsula into a "theatre of war." North Korea "can never remain a passive onlooker to the US desperate moves to ignite a war of aggression," the statement said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Friday that his nation's nuclear weapons should be ready for use at "any moment." The isolated communist regime also threatened in February to launch preventative strikes on South Korean and US targets ahead of the joint exercises.
Tensions have been heightened on the peninsula since North Korea carried out an atomic bomb test in January and a missile test in February.