South Korea and US Begin Drills as North Warns of Rising Tensions

The warning - printed in an official North Korean government newspaper - came just hours before the US and South Korea were slated today to start the so-called "Ulchi Freedom Guardian" military exercises, a 10-day annual military drill on the Korean peninsula.

-South Korean military exercises scheduled from Monday through August 31 will be like "pouring gasoline on fire", North Korea's ruling party mouthpiece warned Sunday.

"The Trump group's declaration of the reckless nuclear war exercises against North Korea ... is a reckless behaviour driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war", the daily said.

South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, said on Monday the drills are defensive in nature.

North Korea's back-track on Guam, after a tense war of words with Washington about its nuclear and missile tests, was conditional.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump pledged to answer North Korean aggression with "fire and fury". Past year in August, after joint maneuvers, the North Korean military launched a missile from a submarine.

Tillerson said peaceful diplomatic pressure was the preferred way to get Pyongyang to stop its testing of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. So far the US and South Korea have rejected this idea.

In recent times, however, calls have been growing for the US and South Korea to suspend their military drills.

"The joint exercise is the most explicit expression of hostility against us and no one can guarantee that the exercise won't evolve into actual fighting", said an editorial in the Rodong Sinmun, the official daily of the Korean People's Party.

Kim would "watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees", a North Korean statement said last week. On the contrary, Pinkston believes the more prepared US and South Korean troops are the lower will be the threat from North Korea.

Moon, who took office in May, announced on his 100th day in office that USA and South Korean policies are aligned on North Korea.

"The dual freeze approach is China's attempt at buck passing and moral equivalency between US actions and North Korean actions", Hass said. He said the military exercises are "not now on the table as part of the negotiations in any way".

There are 50,000 troops from the South Korea. The initiative has been supported by Russian Federation but rejected by the United States.

In 2015, when he UFG drill took place amid high tensions, it resulted in North and South Korean military exchanging artillery fire across the border.

As expected, Pyongyang responded harshly to the drills.

  • Rogelio Becker