Fresh Threats From Pyongyang As Joint Military Exercise Begins

Frederick Owens
August 22, 2017

SEOUL - The United States and South Korea began their annual joint military exercises Monday, while North Korea warned that the drills will deepen tensions on the Korean Peninsula by "throwing fuel onto fire".

Just one day before the United States and South Korea are scheduled to engage in their annual military exercises, known as the Ulchi Freedom Guardian, North Korea issued its newest threat, stating that the US will be "adding fuel to fire" by moving ahead with the planned war games.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula has plunged into a critical phase due to the reckless north-targeted war racket of the war maniacs".

North Korea typically responds to South Korea-U.S. military exercises with weapons tests and a string of belligerent rhetoric.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the joint drills, called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, were purely defensive and did not aim to increase tension on the peninsula.

"If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so". "Even a very limited military option would eventually lead to an armed clash between South and North Korea", Moon's office quoted him as telling the delegation, led by Sen. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he will "watch a little longer the conduct of the foolish and stupid Yankees". He later said his country's military options are now fully "locked and loaded".

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Moon also stressed the importance of China's role in bringing the North back to the dialogue table, noting Pyongyang almost entirely depended on its major ally, Beijing, for its exports. In exchange for their suspension, China has suggested that North Korea should freeze its nuclear program.

U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly hinted at possible military action against the reclusive North after Pyongyang said it may consider launching ballistic missiles toward the U.S. -controlled island of Guam.

No field training like live-fire exercises or tank maneuvering is involved in the Ulchi drills, in which alliance officers sit at computers to practice how they engage in battles and hone their decision-making capabilities. It was lower than last year's 25,000 USA soldiers. It has expressed frustration with both Pyongyang's repeated nuclear and missile tests and with behaviour from South Korea and the United States that it sees as escalating tensions.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Sunday the reduction in the number of U.S. troops taking part reflected a need for fewer personnel and was not because of tension with North Korea.

South Koreans opposed to the joint U.S.

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