TEHRAN (AFP) - North Korea has no choice but to “confront” the United States which is to blame for tensions in the Korean peninsula, a top Iranian commander said in remarks carried on Friday by Fars news agency.

“Tensions in the region are due to excessive demands by the United States... and its tightening of the noose on North Korea,” said armed forces deputy chief Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri.

As a result, “North Korean authorities are left with no choice but to confront the actions of the United States,” he said.

Jazayeri also blamed “warmongering groups” in the US for the rising tensions. He did not elaborate. Pyongyang, incensed by UN sanctions and South Korea-US military drills, has issued a series of apocalyptic threats of nuclear war in recent weeks.

The spike in tensions came as Yonhap news agency, citing a top South Korean government official, said North Korea had loaded two mid-range missiles on mobile launchers and hidden them in underground facilities near its east coast.

Jazayeri backed North Korea in the escalating stand-off, saying: “Independent countries do not submit to American adventurism.” He also criticised the United Nations for what he called its failure to “contain the United States” and for allowing tensions to spread across the Korean peninsula.

The tensions have flared since December, when North Korea launched a long-range rocket. Jazayeri congratulated Pyongyang over the launch, but sanctions-hit Iran in February called for the destruction of all atomic weapons in the world after North Korea announced that it had staged its most powerful nuclear test yet.

“We need to come to the point where no country has any nuclear weapons and at the same time all weapons of mass destruction and nuclear arms need to be destroyed,” foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said at the time. Pyongyang and Tehran have enjoyed good ties since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Both are both under UN Security Council sanctions for their ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.

A 2011 UN sanctions report said Tehran and Pyongyang were suspected of sharing ballistic missile technology.