SEOUL — North Korea has called a semi-annual exercise by Okinawa-based U.S. Marines in South Korea a “disturbing military move,” claiming it is a pretext to an invasion of the North.

Some 450 Marines from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force are in Korea for a month of combat engineer training with South Korean Marine and Army units.

The training takes place twice a year as part of the Korean Incremental Training Program, or KITP.

This training rotation is scheduled to last through the early part of November, U.S. military officials said last week.

The training focuses on river crossings and other missions that can’t be replicated on the island of Okinawa.

This rotation also includes two elements of U.S. Navy sailors, including a Seabee construction detachment and a unit that operates a battlefield surgical hospital.

U.S. officials have characterized the training as enhancing South Korean and U.S. troops’ ability to work together and take defensive measures.

But Monday, North Korea’s official news agencies said the exercise “will only result in increasing the danger of war,” the Korean Central News Agency reported, citing a commentary in the Minju Joson newspaper.

Coupled with U.S. moves to “deploy new type ultra-modern weapons,” a reference to U.S. plans to invest some $11 billion in high-tech upgrades over the next three years, the North sees the moves as “aimed at mounting a pre-emptive attack on the DPRK,” using the acronym for the North’s official name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Last week, the North said the U.S. plan to remove 12,500 troops over the next three years was a ruse in preparation for an invasion.

On Monday, the North said it would meet “U.S. aggression” with its own measures.

“The DPRK will in the future, too, make all efforts to beef up its military deterrent force,” KCNA said, “to defend the sovereignty and right to existence of the country and the nation.”

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