South Korea and United States troops start drills amid Pyongyang nuclear war threat

Aug 22, 2017, 00:45
South Korea and United States troops start drills amid Pyongyang nuclear war threat

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea's ruling party, said in an editorial the USA moves to place the worst-ever sanctions on it and launch military provocations have made the situation on the peninsula extremely tense.

It involves tens of thousands of South Korean soldiers.

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in said the drills are defensive in nature.

North Korea declared it has the military capacity to target the mainland U.S.as well as the USA territory Guam in a strike the US can not "dodge", according to CNN. The media in the Communist state yesterday described the teachings as "reckless" action, which could lead to a nuclear war.

Kim Jong-un has said, however, that conducting the annual war game in South Korea would be "pouring gasoline on the fire" of the already heightened tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.

Military leaders stress these defensive drills are needed to maintain operational readiness, but there are concerns that a show of force could again aggravate tensions in the region, after the USA and North Korea recently came to the brink of conflict over a possible missile test targeting the Guam region. He also cautioned North Korea to "not exaggerate our efforts to keep peace" nor to use the exercises as an excuse to engage in provocations.

Earlier in the month, North Korea said it was "carefully examining" a plan to strike Guam, site of a USA military base.

Mattis also made clear the US' willingness to use force if North Korea steps out of line.

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The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian is a military drill which sees the United States and South Korea join forces in a string of exercises.

The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills that began on Monday are largely computer-simulated war games and will run until August 31. "The U.S. has to be responsible for the ensuing disasters".

"The dual freeze approach is China's attempt at buck passing and moral equivalency between US actions and North Korean actions", Hass said.

Last year's Ulchi-Freedom Guardian event involved almost 80,000 troops in land, sea and air drills. The initiative has been supported by Russian Federation but rejected by the United States.

This is also the first such major military exercise conducted by Washington and Seoul after the North launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in quick succession in July, and threatened to launch an attack on the United States territory of Guam.

Read: What is China's role in the North Korean crisis?

"These exercises also highlight the longstanding military partnership, commitment and enduring friendship between the two nations, help to ensure peace and security on the peninsula, and reaffirm US commitment to the alliance", a defense official said in the statement announcing the exercise.

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