USA and South Korea conduct military drills

North Korea

President Moon Jae-in warned North Korea on Monday not to use joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States as a pretext for provocations, saying the maneuvers are purely defensive.

Pyongyang called the 11-day operation a "reckless" invasion rehearsal that could trigger an "uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war".

Last month North Korea test-launched two ICBMs at highly lofted angles, and outside experts say those missiles can reach some U.S. parts like Alaska, Los Angeles or Chicago if fired at normal, flattened trajectories.

The U.S. rejects this outright, and scaling down the drills now would make President Donald Trump look weak so soon after his warnings of "fire and fury".

Pyongyang then threatened to fire a salvo of missiles towards the U.S. territory of Guam - a plan that leader Kim Jong-Un last week delayed, but warned could go ahead depending on Washington's next move. He has previously said military force is an option to prevent Kim from gaining an intercontinental ballistic missile that could deliver a nuclear weapon to the US. So far the US and South Korea have rejected this idea.

In recent times, however, calls have been growing for the United States and South Korea to suspend their military drills.




Both the US and South Korea strongly defend the exercises arguing they are necessary measures to check their defence readiness.

If North Korea uses the drills this week as a reason to launch missiles around Guam or elsewhere, it could set off a new cycle of escalation. They could be reduced if North Korea were to pursue denuclearization and cease ballistic missile tests, he said. "And had Pyongyang halted testing in 2015, Washington wouldn't be facing the imminent threat of a North Korean ICBM today". In exchange for their suspension, China has suggested that North Korea should freeze its nuclear program. He said the military exercises are "not now on the table as part of the negotiations in any way".

His comments about averting war echoed similar statements he made Tuesday that only South Korea could give consent to initiate any conflict with the North.

China's Global Times newspaper, a state-run tabloid, was scathing of South Korea's decision to proceed with the drills.

"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.

As expected, Pyongyang responded harshly to the drills.

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