Missiles are displayed during a military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the North Korean military at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on February 8, 2023. File | Photo credit: Reuters
North Korea threatened on Friday to take “unprecedented” tough action against its rivals. South Korea announced a series of planned military exercises with the United States. To improve the joint response to the North’s growing nuclear threats.
North Korea has halted weapons testing since it launched its short-range ballistic missile on January 1, although it had fired more than 70 missiles in 2022, a record number in one year. Friday’s warning suggested the North could soon resume scrutiny of its rivals’ military training, which it sees as an attack drill.
“If the United States and South Korea carry out their previously announced plans for military exercises, which (North Korea), with only apprehension and reason, are preparing for an offensive war, they will be exceptionally will face continued and severe countermeasures,” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state media.
The statement accused South Korea and the United States of planning more than 20 remote military exercises, including their largest ever field exercises. He described South Korea and the United States as “culprits for deliberately destroying regional peace and stability”.
“It predicts that the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the region will once again sink into a serious vortex of rising tensions,” the statement said.
He did not specify which US-South Korean military training he was referring to. But North Korea has generally criticized all major regular military exercises between Washington and Seoul as offensive exercises and has responded with its own weapons tests.
Some experts say North Korea has used the various South Korean-US drills as an opportunity to test and perfect its weapons systems. They say North Korea ultimately wants to use its vast nuclear arsenal to gain international recognition as a legitimate nuclear state and seek sanctions relief and other concessions.
Seoul and Washington have said their training is defensive in nature.
Earlier on Friday, South Korea’s vice minister of national defense policy, Heo Tae-keun, told lawmakers that Seoul and Washington will hold annual computer simulation joint training in mid-March. The 11-day training will reflect North Korea’s nuclear threats as well as unspecified lessons from the Russia-Ukraine war, Huey said.
The two countries will also hold joint field exercises in mid-March that will be larger than those held in the past few years, Hue said.
The allies have scaled back or canceled some of their regular exercises in recent years to support the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic and the now-defunct diplomacy over North Korea’s nuclear program.
Earlier on Friday, officials in Seoul said South Korea and the United States will hold a one-day tabletop exercise next week at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, to speed up their response to a possible use of nuclear weapons by North Korea. . South Korea’s defense ministry said in a statement that Wednesday’s drills will establish possible scenarios where North Korea would use nuclear weapons, explore ways to deal with them militarily and develop crisis management plans. .
Seoul’s security concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program deepened after Pyongyang last year adopted a law that allows for the early use of nuclear weapons, and test-fired nuclear-capable missiles. Which keeps South Korea at a distance.
In response to North Korea’s growing threats, South Korea and the United States have expanded their joint military exercises and increased pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. In January, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US would also increase the deployment of advanced weapons such as fighter jets and bombers to the Korean Peninsula.
During their annual meeting in November, Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup agreed to conduct annual tabletop exercises and further strengthen alliance information sharing, joint planning and execution. Austin reiterated a warning that any nuclear attack against the United States or its allies would result in the overthrow of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s regime.