PYONGYANG: The North Korean Foreign Ministry has expressed its willingness to carry out a preemptive nuclear attack in response to the unprecedented trilateral missile defense exercise of South Korea, Japan and United States, calling the routine “another military provocation”.

According to news agencies, the three countries conducted ballistic target tracking operations to test Aegis anti-missile systems on Tuesday in the waters off Hawaii, exhibiting their capability in countering the nuclear-armed North Korea.

A statement issued by the US Pacific Command said that the exercise mainly focused on strengthened inter-operability, communication channels, data collection, and capabilities assessments between the US and its Asian allies. No missiles were fired on the occasion, it added.

Following the drill, North Korea expressed a fierce reaction and strongly condemned the development, calling it a direct threat to its interests.

The military exercise came just a week after North Korea flight-tested a powerful new medium-range ballistic missile. The weapon was hailed as a strike threat to US military bases across the Pacific by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.