North Korea said Monday its armed forces were "fully combat-ready," and would retaliate against any attempt to intercept its planned satellite launch, which neighboring governments suspect might be a missile test. The harsh rhetoric came as the United States and South Korea kicked off annual war games involving tens of thousands of troops, which the communist nation has condemned as preparations for an invasion. The joint drills across South Korea began as concerns mounted that Pyongyang could be gearing up to test-fire a long-range missile capable of reaching US territory. North Korea says it plans to launch a communications satellite, but neighboring governments believe that story is cover for a missile test. "If the enemies recklessly opt for intercepting our satellite, our revolutionary armed forces will launch without hesitation a just, retaliatory strike operation not only against all the interceptor means involved but against the strongholds of the US and Japanese aggressors," the general staff of the North's military said in a statement.