North Korea threatens ‘consequences’ as South Korea and US stage latest round of military drills

North Korean officials warn ‘nuclear war may be ignited even with a spark’

Arpan Rai
Tuesday 05 March 2024 08:14 GMT
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North Korea has threatened the US and South Korea with “consequences” if they failed to stop their latest round of annual military exercises.

South Korea and the US kicked off their large military exercise on Monday to display joint readiness against increasing threats of a nuclear attack from North Korea as tensions escalated between the nations sharing hostile ties in the Korean peninsula.

The annual military drills include a computer-simulated command post training called the Freedom Shield exercise along with a range of field exercises spanning 11 days, according to the South Korean defence ministry.

North Korea’s defence ministry issued a statement saying it “strongly denounces the reckless military drills of the US and (South Korea) for getting more undisguised in their military threat to a sovereign state and attempt for invading it”.

It claimed that “a nuclear war may be ignited even with a spark”.

North Korea will “continue to watch the adventurist acts of the enemies and conduct responsible military activities to strongly control the unstable security environment on the Korean Peninsula”, an unidentified ministry spokesperson said, according to KCNA.

“The large-scale war drills staged by the world’s biggest nuclear weapons state and more than 10 satellite states against a state in the Korean peninsula where a nuclear war may be ignited even with a spark, can never be called ‘defensive’,” the statement added.

It was not immediately clear what measures North Korea could resort to in retaliation but experts are anticipating likely missile tests or other steps to display its nuclear sabre-rattling tactic.

In response to the North, the South Korean defence ministry said the joint drills with the US are part of a regular defensive training.

Any direct provocations from North Korea against the drills will be met with an overwhelming response from South Korea, a ministry statement said.

The US has repeatedly confirmed they have no intention of attacking North Korea.

North Korea’s latest response to the South and the US’s joint military exercises in the Peninsula is a repeat of its aggressive stance towards regional defensive measures taken by South Korea which has seen Pyongyang launch over a hundred missile tests in two years.

The tests included the firing of an inter-continental ballistic missile in July last year, where North Korea claimed the nuclear-capable weapon can reach a range of anywhere in the US and in its neighbouring nations of South Korea and Japan.

North’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un has said he has no desire to engage in diplomatic solutions and would annihilate its rival if provoked, continuing his belligerent attacks.

The country has evaded a broad range of international sanctions designed to prevent Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program by test firing cruise missiles, short-range and long-range ballistic missiles and hypersonic missiles.

Since 2021, concerns surrounding North Korea’s nuclear programme have surged, resulting in expansion of the US and South Korean military exercises. The US has also intensified its deployment of powerful US military assets like aircraft carriers and nuclear-capable bombers in response.

This year alone, North Korea performed at least six rounds of missile tests and artillery firing drills.

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