nsucurrent.com February 22, 2018

South Korea and USA troops start drills amid Pyongyang nuclear war threat

22 August 2017, 12:51 | Colleen Roy

An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base

An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base

The exercises include computer simulations carried out in a large bunker south of Seoul meant to check the allies' readiness to repel aggressions by the North.

Itis believed the exercises will involve around 17,5000 U.S. troops mostly involved in the simulation side of the drills.

US top military official Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, last week said the US and South Korea would go ahead with joint military drills despite pressure from North Korea and its ally, China.

Pyongyang view the joint military drills as a rehearsal for a northern invasion. The media in the Communist state yesterday described the teachings as "reckless" action, which could lead to a nuclear war.

Just last week, Pyongyang said it had finalized a plan to fire four missiles toward the USA territory of Guam.

Trump this week praised North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after he did not follow through on a threat to fire missiles in waters off Guam, a US territory with a large naval base located 2,200 miles northeast of North Korea.

President Donald Trump warned North Korea that any attacks would be met by "fire and fury" from the US, after Pyongyang announced it had developed an ICBM capable of striking the USA mainland. But Seoul and Washington have rejected the offer, calling the drills legitimate defense exercises that they have conducted for decades.

Tens of thousands of troops from the U.S., South Korea and several other countries will conduct drills over the next few weeks to prepare for a possible war with Kim Jong Un's regime.

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.

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

The "lax enforcement" of existing sanctions and Pyongyang's "evolving evasion techniques" were undermining the United Nations goal of getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, Kyodo quoted the report as saying. They could be reduced if North Korea were to pursue denuclearization and cease ballistic missile tests, he said. "The U.S. has to be responsible for the ensuing disasters".

North Korea claims it has successfully miniaturized a nuclear weapon.

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

"If North Korea provokes again, it will face with much harsher sanction and won't stand it in the end".

"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 USA commitment to the alliance", a defense official said in the statement announcing the exercise.

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