The military war games conducted by the United States and South Korea elicited a typical North Korean response. Pyongyang threatened both countries on Tuesday with “merciless retaliation” over their ongoing joint military drills.
North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News (KCNA) had a bombastic warning that both countries they “should take the whole responsibility for catastrophic results from (a) reckless war game.” The annual joint exercise is a 10-day mutual defense drill that consists of 50,000 South Korean forces and 17,500 US troops taking part.
Pyongyang views the annual drills as an invasion rehearsal. South Korea and the U.S. describe them as defensive in nature. This year’s drills come amid a war of words between North Korea and the U.S. over the former’s threat to launch missiles into waters near the U.S. territory of Guam, although tensions have eased in recent days.
In a separate opinion piece published by KCNA, North Korea described President Trump as a leader who tweets “weird articles of his ego-driven thoughts” and “spouts rubbish” that make life for his aides difficult. In previous commentaries, the North has described Trump as “going senile” and a “war maniac bereft of reason.”
A North Korean diplomat appearing at a United Nations forum on nuclear disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday said Pyongyang would not negotiate over its nuclear program. Ju Yong-chol said his country’s nuclear deterrence was a “justifiable” and “legitimate” form of self-defense in the face of hostile U.S. foreign policy.
Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, said the drills are critical for maintaining readiness against an aggressive North Korea. In other comments on CNN, Harris stated that “testing our forces will be foolhardy.”
The US released footage of F-16s scrambling off the Osan air base runways, which can reach the DMZ in 2-3 minutes and the U-2 spy planes that they monitor the North Koreans with.
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