North Korea warns of 'merciless strike' ahead of US-South Korea drills

Casey Dawson
August 23, 2017

The U.S. and South Korea on Monday began 10 days of large-scale joint military exercises, but with a reduced number of troops and assets than had participated past year.

The Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises that occur every summer are a massive military planning and coordination operation about how to respond to computer-simulated North Korean attack scenarios.

"No one can guarantee that this will not escalate into a real war", it said, calling the annual drills a "rehearsal for nuclear war" and the "most naked expression of hostility" toward the North.

It's an annual joint drill between American and South Korean forces, but this year, it comes following a bitter back-and-forth between North Korea and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The number of United States soldiers in this year's drill was reduced by a third, while South Korean media reported that the U.S. was considering scrapping a plan to bring in two aircraft carriers to the peninsula.

"North Korea should not underestimate our efforts to preserve peace", the president added.

It comes as the US and South Korea joined forces today to take part in an annual 10-day exercise, known as Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, involving tens of thousands of troops.

Amid the fiery volley of threats, North Korea declared the "Ulchi Freedom Guardian" (UFG) could lead to "nuclear war".

If He Defeats Mayweather, Should McGregor Stay in Boxing?
"You can't fight with a pay cheque, you can only fight with heart: that's the only thing that gets you through tough times". He said: "Some people have spoken out against it, but I think it's good, we're talking about it and so is everybody else".

In addition, Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission observers will monitor the exercise to ensure it is in compliance with the Armistice Agreement for the Restoration of the South Korean State (1953), it said. They were not deployed in the exercises previous year.

Tensions between the USA and North Korea have grown in recent weeks.

About 17,500 United States troops will participate in this year's drills, which represents a reduction from last year.

"No, no, this is an exercise for the defense of Korea".

North Korea had launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July and announced a plan to strike near Guam with four mid-range missiles.

In an unusual gesture, three top US military commanders - Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris, Strategic Command head Gen. John Hyten and Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves - will observe the command-post exercise in person. But Defense Secretary James Mattis says that's not because of the heightened tensions. The exercises include computer simulations carried out in a large bunker south of Seoul meant to check the allies' readiness to repel aggressions by the North. Days after the drills, the North carried out its fifth and biggest nuclear test to date. The also unlikely to send is strategic assets, such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull last week told 3AW that an ANZUS treaty would be invoked and Australia would send troops to the aid of the U.S. "if there is an attack" on the ally.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article