South joint drills begin amid North Korea tensions

Threats, tension are nothing new to South Korea

As two dozen Australian troops prepare to join in 10 days of annual war games, North Korea have warned the U.S. "they're pouring gasoline on fire" by holding the drill in South Korea. North Korea has long denounced the drills as a war rehearsal for a northern invasion, reports Yonhap News Agency.

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

US Army soldiers move during the annual Ulchi-Freedom Guardian military exercises in Paju, South Korea, near the border with North Korea What has Donald Trump said?

Training exercises like Ulchi Freedom Guardian are carried out in the spirit of the October 1, 1953, South Korean-U.S.

The exercise was initiated in 1976 and is held annually during August or September. On the contrary, Pinkston believes the more prepared US and South Korean troops are the lower will be the threat from North Korea.

Formal talks on North Korea's nuclear program collapsed in 2009, and the USA has resisted restarting them until Kim demonstrates a commitment to denuclearization and halts tests of missiles and nuclear devices.

The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian military exercises routinely spark condemnation from North Korea. But Seoul and Washington have rejected the offer, calling the drills legitimate defense exercises that they have conducted for decades. The exercise involves 17,500 American troops and 50,000 South Korean soldiers, according to the USA military command in South Korea and Seoul's Defence Ministry.

Mattis also made clear the US' willingness to use force if North Korea steps out of line.

Читайте также: White House disbands another advisory council, this one on infrastructure

"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.

But US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Sunday the smaller troop numbers were "by design to achieve the exercise objectives", denying suggestions Washington had cut them back to try to ease tensions with Pyongyang.

On the eve of the UFG drills, North Korea said the United States was "pouring gasoline on fire".

"We call on all countries to redouble their efforts, including through implementation of agreed UN Security Council resolutions, to bring North Korea to its senses and end its reckless and unsafe threats to the peace of our region and the world", he added.

North Korea claims it has successfully miniaturized a nuclear weapon.

Last year's Ulchi-Freedom Guardian event involved almost 80,000 troops in land, sea and air drills. "They are making a genuine effort to pin responsibility on the United States".

Kim would "watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees", a North Korean statement said last week.

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