South Korea and US Begin Drills as North Warns of Rising Tensions
22 August, 2017, 00:27 | Author: Ora Austin
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the joint drills, calledUlchi Freedom Guardian, were purely defensive and did not aim to increase tension on the peninsula.
After North Korea's threats against Guam and an nearly unprecedented war of words over Pyongyang's repeated missile tests, analysts have warned that the joint drills may be seen as a provocation at a particularly sensitive time.
Despite the growing tension between North Korea and U.S., the annual military drills held in South Korea continues, which consistently infuriates Pyongyang despite its appeals to halt the exercise.
US President Donald Trump assured South Korea he would consult with them before making any military decisions on North Korea, according to Moon.
However, on Sunday, an editorial in North Korea's official government newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, said that the exercises would "worsen" the state of the peninsula and warned of an "uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war".
Both Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un are known for bombastic language in their communication.
Both the US and South Korea strongly defend the exercises arguing they are necessary measures to check their defence readiness.
"What is more serious is the fact that brass hats of the USA military, including the commanders of the US forces in the Pacific and the Strategic Forces, visited South Korea on the eve of the rehearsal", the KCNA said.
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The exercise is defensive in nature, Mattis said, noting that joint exercises have been going on for decades.
The way in which the games are conducted and advertised will send an important signal to the North, said the U.S. military's newspaper Stars and Stripes in a piece published over the weekend.
The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills that began Monday are largely computer-simulated war games and will run through August 31. Shortly after last year's exercises, for example, North Korea conducted its second nuclear missile test in nine months.
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