SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea warned Saturday that U.S. military forces in South Korea would “meet a miserable destruction” if the two allies went ahead with planned military drills in March, North Korean state media reported.

Washington and Seoul regularly carry out military exercises in the region. The North alleges they are preparations for an attack — a claim denied by the South and the United States.

“You had better bear in mind that those igniting a war are destined to meet a miserable destruction while a great victory is in store for the guardians of justice,” North Korea’s Pak Rim Su, a top military officer to the border village of Panmunjom, told James Thurman, head of U.S. forces in South Korea, by telephone.

The heated rhetoric comes after North Korea conducted its third nuclear test this month, drawing international condemnation.

Pyongyang said the test was in retaliation for a tightening of U.N. sanctions, which were imposed after the North launched a rocket in December that put a detectable object into orbit for the first time.

South Korean and American military drills begin March 1 and will last two months.