New threats from North Korea come the day before the United States and South Korea are scheduled to engage in their annual military exercises, known as the Ulchi Freedom Guardian.
The military exercises have provoked North Korea in the past, but the country’s communist dictator has been especially threatening in the past few months as he repeatedly, and defiantly, tests his nuclear missile program.
North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said on Sunday that the United States will be “adding fuel to fire” by moving ahead with its planned war games, which could “worsen the state of the region” and lead into an “uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war,” South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.
“If the United States is lost in a fantasy that war on the peninsula is at somebody else’s door far away from them across the Pacific, it is far more mistaken than ever,” the report said.
Both South Korea and the United States intend to move forward with the scheduled exercises that are set to begin Monday, August 21.
President Donald J. Trump stated two weeks ago that the United States would respond to any North Korea aggression with “fire and fury“, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated the same strong stance on Thursday, noting that Washington is “prepared militarily” to respond. He also added that the United States is seeking a peaceful solution, but it has to be backed by a strong military consequence if North Korea chooses wrongly.
The North Korean newspaper called the military exercise the “most explicit expression of hostility,” and that “no one can guarantee that the exercise won’t evolve into actual fighting.”
According to a military source, “In this year’s Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, there will be about 50,000 South Korean troops and a total of 17,500 American troops, including 3,000 overseas reinforcements.” Last year’s exercise is known to have had a total of 25,000 U.S. troops, including 2,500 overseas reinforcements. Although the number of overseas reinforcements has risen by 500, the total number of troops has decreased by 7,500.
According to Yonhap News Agency, South Korea’s top military officer, General Jeong Kyeong-doo, warned North Korea it will “make it regret bitterly” if the communist country decides to launch an attack.
On Tuesday, North Korea said it will never put its nuclear weapons program on the negotiating table for as long as the United States keeps up its “hostile policy and nuclear threat.”
On the same day, Pyongyang also stepped back from its plan to strike Guam with four medium-range ballistic missiles. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he will “watch a little longer the conduct of the foolish and stupid Yankees.”
Dennis Michael Lynch, CEO of DML NEWS, said last week that the tough stance taken by President Trump is why North Korea is backing off. “Kim threatened to launch 4 missiles at Guam, and he swore America would equate to ashes, but because Trump stood his ground and matched the threats from Kim with threats of his own, Kim realized he was no longer dealing with Obama. Make no mistake, Kim will remain a big mouth, but his threats are just words. The same thing with China, they are coming to realize Trump means business when it comes to protecting America.”
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