North Korea has warned that it will soon consider US military action near its borders as a “declaration of war,” issuing a harsh response after American diplomats pressed the United Nations to condemn recent weapons tests by the DPRK

Senior Foreign Ministry official Kwon Jeong-geun, who oversees US affairs, issued a statement on Friday to “strongly protest” a UN Security Council meeting held earlier this week, where Washington proposed a measure to denounce Pyongyang’s latest ballistic missile launches

Such a move would be a “clear violation of our state’s right to self-defense,” Kwon said, adding “If the UN Security Council sincerely intends to contribute to ensuring peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, it will have to condemn acts that escalate military tension, such as the deployment of strategic assets and large-scale joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea

The official went on to say those actions have largely been “ignored” by the international community, warning of “strong countermeasures” should North Korea’s concerns continue to go unheeded

At the UN meeting on Monday, US envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield scolded the Security Council for its alleged “lack of action” in response to North Korean arms tests, calling it “dangerous” and “worse than shameful.” She pressured the body to adopt a formal ‘presidential statement’ – which does not amount to a legally-binding resolution – to condemn missile launches carried out on Saturday and Monday

The recent weapons tests prompted several rounds of military exercises by the United States, South Korea and Japan, with Washington and Seoul carrying out combined air drills on Sunday, followed by three-way naval exercises in the Sea of Japan. A tabletop simulation involving South Korean officials was also held in the US capital on Wednesday, during which Pyongyang said it fired off long-range cruise missiles.

The tit-for-tat military action underscores soaring tensions on the Korean Peninsula over the last year, with North Korea carrying a record number of missile tests amid a flurry of joint war games led by the Pentagon. The DPRK has repeatedly condemned the drills as rehearsals for an invasion and argues its missile program is intended for self-defense, while Washington continues to press North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal