Sunday, 19 November, 2017

North Korea warns of clash as military drills begin

Kim Jong-un GETTY NORTH KOREA Kim Jong-un slammed the'reckless behaviour of the large-scale military drills
Melinda Barton | 22 August, 2017, 01:31

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday called for North Korea to recognize that its "continuous provocations" are responsible for the "vicious cycle" of joint military drills by South Korea and the U.S.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the joint drills "Ulchi Freedom Guardian" were defensive and has no intention to raise tensions on the peninsula.

Last week the North's state-run media outlet warned that the drill in the Korean Peninsula would "further drive the situation on the Korean Peninsula into catastrophe".

The exercise between Seoul and Washington, which has been held since the 1970s, will be largely computer simulated and created to hone responses to any situation from conventional weapons to a nuclear war.

"This is an exercise to make certain that we're ready to defend South Korea and our allies over there", he said.

"The president said should North Korea choose the right path, it will be able to enjoy a brighter future with the cooperation of the worldwide community", Park said.

North Korea views such exercises as preparations for invasion and has fired missiles and taken other actions to show its anger over military drills in the past.

General Sir Chris Deverell, Commander of the UK's Joint Forces Command, will fly to South Korea in the coming days to join United Kingdom troops on the exercise.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump vowed to respond to North Korea's actions with "fire and fury".

"We don't think the joint exercises will be conducive to reducing the current tensions and we urge the relevant parties to take the "suspension for suspension" proposal seriously", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing. So far the US and South Korea have rejected this idea.

The number of US participating soldiers, however, has decreased by 7,500 compared to a year ago.

Both the US and South Korea say they are purely defensive.

"North Korea has shown it has no regard for the welfare of its own population, no regard for the security and good relations with its neighbours and no regard for global law", he said in a statement to the ABC on Monday evening.

The DPRK test-launched what it called an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) twice in July.

According to Fox News, in South Korea, the drills led to an "uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war". In response, the DPRK threatened to fire missiles towards the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam.

In the week following the conclusion of Ulchi Freedom Guardian in 2016, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test.

Moon's remarks followed a heated war of words between the communist North and the United States.

But US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Sunday the smaller troop numbers were "by design to achieve the exercise objectives", denying suggestions Washington had cut them back to try to ease tensions with Pyongyang.