North Korea slams joint US-South Korea military drills
21 August, 2017, 08:17 | Author: Essie Rivera
According to the US Department of Defense, a total of 17,500 US forces are expected to participate in the exercise from August 21-31, including 3,000 troops that are not based in South Korea.
State media in the North said: "The joint exercise is the most explicit expression of hostility against us, and no one can guarantee that the exercise won't evolve into actual fighting".
Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump pledged to answer North Korean aggression with "fire and fury".
"The drill will definitely provoke Pyongyang more, and Pyongyang is expected to make a more radical response", it said in an editorial.
Mattis also made clear the US' willingness to use force if North Korea steps out of line. However, the US and South Korea maintain they are purely defensive.
"In the event of a missile launch towards the territory of Japan, Guam, United States, Korea, we would take immediate, specific actions to take it down", Mattis said. Pyongyang eventually reneged on an agreement to dismantle its nuclear reactors - one among many reasons the USA doesn't trust North Korea.
The new rhetoric means the chances of some type of "provocation" from North Korea - such as another missile test or perhaps a cyberattack - are "quite high", said Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor of Korean studies at Tufts University's Fletcher School.
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"The dual freeze approach is China's attempt at buck passing and moral equivalency between US actions and North Korean actions", Hass said.
North Korea unveils two of what is believed to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at the military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2017. Kim's regime only wants the U.S.to cancel military drills that prepare for removing him from power and detonating nuclear weapons, Joel Wit, a former state department official, wrote in the Atlantic magazine on August 13.
With tensions high on the Korean peninsula, China - Pyongyang's main ally and trading partner - has urged the United States and South Korea to scrap the drills, as has Russian Federation.
"North Korea is probably looking at all the cards it has to maximize pressure against the United States, and the drills provide a good opportunity to do it", Cheon said.
"If you are going to suspend exercises you should get something pretty good from the North Koreans for it", Delury said.
Training exercises like Ulchi Freedom Guardian are carried out in the spirit of the October 1, 1953, South Korean-U.S.
While expressing a desire to reach out to the North, South Korea's liberal President Moon Jae-in has also ordered his military officials to schedule talks with the United States to increase the warhead limits on South Korean missiles, and his prime minister said recently that the country should also consider acquiring nuclear-powered submarines to better cope with North Korean threats.
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