USA and South Korean troops start drills amid standoff with Pyongyang

Frederick Owens
August 22, 2017

Called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, the joint drills will take place from August 21 to August 31 and involve computer simulations created to prepare for the unthinkable: war with nuclear-capable North Korea.

The wargames, details of which are a closely guarded secret, simulate military conflict with the isolated country. North Korea has yet to issue a response to the proposal.

Russian Federation is warning that a military response to tensions on the Korean Peninsula will lead to a "colossal" tragedy.

In response, the DPRK warned that it could fire four intermediate-range ballistic missiles towards the Pacific island of Guam, leading to Trump's warning that the US military was "locked and loaded".

Michelle Thomas, a U.S. military spokeswoman, also highlighted the defensive nature of the drills. There will be no field training during the exercise, according to US Forces Korea.

But others say it's likely North Korea is only using the military exercises as an excuse to act out, and, according to Lee, it could even embolden Kim to try to further bully or even blackmail the US and South Korea "again and again".

The exercises took place as part of a defensive drills called Ulchi Freedom Guardian.

"You can expand a certain area to see what troops are in what sort of status and where they will move", said Park.

The annual drills antagonize Pyongyang which see the exercises as practice for an invasion, however the USA and South Korea maintain they are purely defensive.

Guterres spoke by telephone with Deputy Ambassador Kim In Ryong on Tuesday, the North Korean mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Thursday.

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China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, and Russian Federation both supported the sanctions on Pyongyang, but have also urged the United States and South Korea to scrap the military drills.

"We will follow to the ends of the earth those who dare try to harm our core".

Unlike the March exercise, UFG doesn't include live fire drills and happens concurrently with drills by local governments and civil servants to prepare South Korea's civil defenses.

North Korea's back-track on Guam, after a tense war of words with Washington about its nuclear and missile tests, was conditional.

His comments followed Mattis' threat that it would be "game on" if North Korea carried out its threat to fire missiles toward the U.S. island territory of Guam. The initiative has been supported by Russian Federation but rejected by the United States.

Tillerson spoke after he and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis held annual security talks with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Foreign Minister Taro Kono at the State Department.

Defence Minister Marise Payne said Australia had regularly played a small role in the annual war games since 2010.

The exercises, created to improve South Korea's defence, are carried out to recognise the treaty between the Republic of Korea and the United States signed in 1953.

The United States has not backed down.

Air Force Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo, newly appointed chairman of South Korea's Joint Chief of Staff (JCS), said in the parliamentary confirmation hearing last week that it would be important to dissuade Pyongyang from its possession of nuclear weapons through dialogue and pressure.

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