North Korea warns US against ‘powerful’ response to allied drills
By KIM TONG-HYUNG – Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s Foreign Ministry has slammed the United States for expanding joint military exercises with South Korea that it claims are a practice for a possible invasion, and he warned on Tuesday of “more powerful follow-up measures” in response.
The ministry’s statement comes as the United States and South Korea conduct aerial exercises involving more than 200 fighter jets, including their advanced F-35 fighter jets, as they strengthen their defense posture against increased weapons testing and the growing nuclear threat from North Korea. .
North Korea has ramped up its weapons demonstrations at a record pace this year, launching more than 40 ballistic missiles, including developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles and an intermediate-range missile fired over Japan. The North has punctuated these tests with an escalating nuclear doctrine that authorizes preemptive nuclear attacks in vaguely defined crisis situations.
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The United States and South Korea have resumed large-scale military exercises this year after reducing or suspending them in recent years as part of efforts to create diplomatic space with Pyongyang and due to the pandemic.
The United States and South Korea’s “Vigilant Storm” air force drills, which are due to continue through Friday, came after South Korea completed its annual drills on the 12-day “Hoguk” field which officials said also involved an undetermined number of US troops.
North Korea’s latest statement came just days after the country fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, extending a barrage of launches since late September. Some of these launches have been described by the North as simulated nuclear attacks against South Korean and American targets.
North Korea said its testing activities were meant as a warning amid joint military drills. But some experts say Pyongyang has also used the drills as a chance to test new weapons systems, boost its nuclear capability and increase its influence in future relations with Washington and Seoul.
In comments attributed to an unidentified spokesperson, the North Korean Foreign Ministry statement said the military exercises revealed the United States was the “primary culprit in the destruction of peace and security. “. He said the North was ready to take “all necessary measures” to defend against external military threats.
“If the United States continues to persist in serious military provocations, the DPRK will consider stronger follow-up measures,” the spokesperson said, using North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. . The statement did not specify what those measures might be.
South Korean officials have said North Korea could up the ante in the coming weeks by detonating its first nuclear test device since September 2017, which could potentially bring the country closer to its nuclear construction goals. a full-fledged nuclear arsenal capable of threatening the American region. allies and the American continent.
In recent weeks, North Korea has also fired hundreds of shells into inter-Korean maritime buffer zones that the two Koreas established in 2018 to reduce frontline military tensions. North Korea said the firing was in reaction to South Korean live-fire exercises in land border areas. The rival Koreas traded warning shots on Oct. 24 along their disputed western maritime border, the scene of bloodshed and past naval battles, as they accused each other of breaching the border.
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