North Korea warns of 'merciless strike' ahead of US-South Korea drills

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 22, 2017

US and South Korean troops have begun annual military drills amid heated warnings by the North that the exercises will worsen tensions in the region.

Top U.S. brass are converging in Seoul as joint military exercises by the U.S. and South Korea start Monday.

With tensions high on the Korean peninsula, China - Pyongyang's main ally and trading partner - has urged the United States and South Korea to scrap the drills, as has Russian Federation.

The military exercise involves computer simulations created to prepare for a possible attack by nuclear-armed Pyongyang and is expected to run through to August 31.

"If sparks fly as a result of an incident, no amount of strength could prevent war", North Korea stated.

I Corps and Third Republic of Korea Soldiers complete a successful test of communicating over their Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems over encrypted channels during Ulchi Freedom Guardian at Yongin, South Korea, Aug. 20, 2015.

The annual drills are viewed by nuclear-armed Pyongyang as a highly provocative rehearsal for invasion, and it always meets them with threats of strong military counteraction.

"If South Korea really wants no war on the Korean Peninsula, it should try to stop this military exercise".

"It's to prepare if something big were to occur and we needed to protect ROK", said Michelle Thomas, a USA military spokeswoman, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea. And, the tensions were ratcheted up further when President Donald Trump made threats of fire and fury to North Korea.

"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.

Moon made the remarks at a meeting at Cheong Wa Dae with a bipartisan group of US lawmakers including Sens.

The number of USA participating soldiers, however, has decreased by 7,500 compared to previous year.

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.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula and in surrounding areas is extremely sharp due to Washington's worst-ever anti-DPRK sanctions and military provocations", the newspaper said.

It described North Korea as the "strongest possessor" of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States mainland from anywhere.

The U.S. -South Korea joint war game will last till the end of this month. It was followed by a war of words between Pyongyang and Washington, which escalated tension on the peninsula.

South Korea called the North an enemy for the first time in 2010 under the conservative Lee Myung-bak government, and has kept that expression since then.

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