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US and S. Korean troops start drills amid N. Korea standoff

US and S. Korean troops start drills amid N. Korea standoff

North Korean state media warned Sunday that the exercises are "reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war", according to CNN.

The DPRK, Moon said, did not stop its efforts to advance the nuclear and missile technologies, while the global community strengthened pressure and sanctions on Pyongyang. The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian will take place until August 31st, and involve computer-based drills created to simulate a conflict scenario with a nuclear-armed North Korea.

Pyongyang also threatened "merciless strikes" on USA targets if it detects signs of imminent attack.

The annual drills are viewed by nuclear-armed Pyongyang as a highly provocative rehearsal for invasion, and it always meets them with threats of strong military counteraction. The North Koreans, however, are not convinced and claim the allies are preparing to invade the North.

The U.S. has made it clear that the application of military force is an option if North Korea missteps. Many of them will be joining thousands of South Korean forces in the exercises. Russian Federation has also asked for the drills to stop but the United States has not backed down.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing that the drills are "not beneficial to easing current tensions or efforts by all sides to promote talks".

The United States and South Korea began joint war games Monday, raising fears of a fresh crisis in the standoff with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.




"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.

The Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on August 5 that could slash its $3 billion annual export revenue by a third. But it did test a submarine-launched ballistic missile during the same exercises previous year and could take similar steps again.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump pledged to answer North Korean aggression with "fire and fury".

What Pyongyang has responded by promising to shoot a salvo of missiles close to the u.s. territory of Guam in the Pacific.

"If the U.S. president did move unilaterally in a circumstance like that, against the [wishes] of a South Korean president, the U.S. -ROK defense alliance would be over in a heartbeat", he said.

The United States has about 28,000 troops in South Korea. The Pentagon instead said the number of troops participating in the exercise has gone down to 17,500 this year from the 25,000 involved last year.

Last year's involved some 25,000 USA forces and about twice that number from South Korea.


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