North Korea on Sunday warned that the joint military exercises conducted by the United States and South Korea were “driving the situation into an uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war”. Calling the drill “reckless behaviour”, Pyongyang threatened to target the US with a “merciless strike” that neither Guam, nor Hawaii, nor the US mainland would be able to dodge, CNN reported, quoting the official North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

The 10-day annual military exercises between the US and South Korea began on Monday. Known as the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercises, the war games conducted every year include land, sea and air drills, computer simulations and drills for chemical and terror attacks.

“The joint exercise is the most explicit expression of hostility against us, and no one can guarantee that the exercise won’t evolve into actual fighting,” the North Korean state media said. It compared the exercises to “pouring fuel on fire”, Sky News reported.

“If the United States is lost in a fantasy that war on the peninsula is at somebody else’s doorstep far away from them across the Pacific, it is far more mistaken than ever,” Pyongyang’s warned.