US, South Korea joint military exercise could send Korea tensions soaring again

Kim Jong-un visits the Korean People's Army Strategic Force command

"This is absolutely the wrong direction for the Korean Peninsula; this according to the people of South Korea, this according to the people of North Korea, this according to the governments of Russian Federation and China".

North Korea should refrain from provocative actions against the backdrop of the joint US-South Korean Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), a spokesman for South Korea's unification ministry said Monday.

"This is a suicidal act of inviting disaster as it is an illustration of political immaturity, unaware of the seriousness of the current situation", the agency said, according to translations.

The representative also took aim at Turnbull's position on a military confrontation, describing it as a "U turn".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned Wednesday "we can't support ideas by some of our partners to suffocate North Korea economically with all the negative and tragic humanitarian consequences for its citizens".

He says Americans shouldn't be anxious about an unprovoked attack from North Korea either on Guam or the United States.

"So be very, very clear on that". Ambassador Kim accused the United States of instigating the latest U.N. sanctions against North Korea to "isolate and stifle" the country and completely block its economic development and improve "the people's livelihood".

'The Australian government had better devote time and energy to maintaining peace of its own country, instead of forgetting the lessons learned in the past and joining the U.S. in the moves for nuclear war. Ambassador Kim reiterated his leader's demand that the USA immediately stop its "arrogant provocation" and its "extremely risky actions around the Korean Peninsula", including deploying "huge nuclear strategic equipment".

The joint U.S. -South Korean drills last until August 31 and involve tens of thousands of troops as well as computer simulations created to prepare for war with a nuclear-capable North Korea.

Still, the fact that the exercise has been scaled down from last year's, with fewer USA soldiers joining this year's drill, raises concerns that there could be a different plan brewing within Washington.

"There is no such thing as a surgical strike against North Korea", Bruce Bennett, a North Korea expert at the RAND Corporation, said in one of its recent publications.

A military response to North Korea would be "horrific" but remains an option, the top military adviser to US President Donald Trump says.

But, he added, "what's unimaginable is allowing KJU (North Korean leader Kim Jong Un) to develop ballistic missiles with a nuclear warhead that can threaten the United States and continue to threaten the region".

"These exercises also highlight the longstanding military partnership, an enduring friendship between the two countries, help to ensure peace and security on the Peninsula and reaffirm the USA commitment to the Alliance", - stated in the message.

Those meetings have also included meetings with Chinese military officials to ensure open lines of communication.



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