North Korea denounced the US deployment of a naval strike group to the region Tuesday, warning it is ready for "war" as Washington tightens the screws on the nuclear-armed state.
The strike group -- which includes the Nimitz-class aircraft supercarrier USS Carl Vinson -- cancelled a planned trip to Australia this weekend to head to the Korean peninsula in a show of force.
"This goes to prove that the US reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase," a spokesman for the North's foreign ministry said according to state news agency KCNA.
"The DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US," he said, using the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
President Donald Trump, fresh from ordering a missile strike on Syria that was widely interpreted as a warning to North Korea, has asked his advisors for a range of options to rein in Pyongyang, a top US official said Sunday.
Trump has previously threatened unilateral action against Pyongyang if China -- the North's sole major ally -- fails to help curb its neighbour's nuclear weapons ambitions.
But Pyongyang's response suggested the reclusive state is determined to continue on its current path, despite repeated rounds of United Nations sanctions.
"We will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms," the foreign ministry spokesman said.
"We will hold the US wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions."