North Korea resumes threats ahead of exercises

Other members of the United Nations Command - Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Britain - have also sent their forces but the drills are majorly led by the US and South Korea.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula has plunged into a critical phase due to the reckless north-targeted war racket of the war maniacs".

Its top propaganda paper, the Rodong Sinmun, on Sunday wrote the exercise is "the most explicit expression of hostility against" North Korea, would be like "pouring gasoline on fire" and worsen the state of the peninsula.

The annual Ulchi-Freedom Guardian military exercises starting Monday routinely spark condemnation from North Korea, and this year is no different.

Joint exercises happen twice a year - once in March, again in August. State media reported that leader Kim Jong Un would assess the US' next move before giving launch orders.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump vowed to respond to North Korea's actions with "fire and fury". "If the USA engages in drills simulating an invasion of North Korea, it is not considered a provocation, but if North Korea reacts with missile tests and verbal attacks, it is deemed a threat to the whole world", Cho told DW.

China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, has urged the United States and South Korea to scrap the exercises. The allies have said the drills are defensive in nature. This year, 17,500 members of the US military and almost 50,000 servicemembers from the South Korean military are taking part.

Edward J. Markey, who is now leading a congressional delegation in Korea, China and Japan, said the USA should consider modifying the drills if North Korea agrees to freeze its weapons programs.

North Korea has described Australia's involvement in war games between the USA and South Korea as a "suicidal act". However, the US and South Korea maintain they are purely defensive. "North Korea should not use this as a pretext for provocation". The U.S. has always maintained these are purely defensive and to keep the two militaries prepared in case of an unplanned event like a missile strike.

"The dual freeze approach is China's attempt at buck passing and moral equivalency between USA actions and North Korean actions", Hass said.

China and Russian Federation have also called for the suspension of the joint military drills along with a freeze on North Korean missile and nuclear tests.

It is generally held around this time of year, even using computer simulation exercises. "And had Pyongyang halted testing in 2015, Washington wouldn't be facing the imminent threat of a North Korean ICBM today".

  • Tracy Klein