North Korea slams ‘planned’ South Korea-US military drills, warns of ‘catastrophic aftermath’

Seoul, May 17 (IANS) North Korea on Friday denounced a plan by South Korea and the US to stage their joint annual military drills in August, warning that they could face a “catastrophic aftermath” if they carry out the exercise.

The Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) by Seoul and Washington is a “nuclear attack exercise” against Pyongyang that will involve state-of-the-art military equipment, including nuclear strategic assets, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

In December 2023, South Korea and the US agreed to hold a discussion-based exercise simulating North Korea’s use of a nuclear weapon in conjunction with the UFS. It would mark the first time such training takes place, Yonhap news agency reported.

“The joint military exercise slated for August aims to complete the US nuclear war plan … and fully implement it. This clearly shows that Washington’s claim that it has no hostile intent is nothing but a deceptive hypocrisy,” the KCNA said.

In a separate KCNA dispatch, the North also denounced the latest joint air combat drills between advanced South Korean and US stealth fighters.

The exercise, involving two South Korean F-35As and two US F-22 Raptors, took place over a central region in South Korea on Thursday after the US aircraft arrived in the country earlier this week.

“The ‘revisit’ of F-22 stealth fighters to the Korean peninsula only after seven months and their first ‘simulated air battle’ is another clear proof of the hostile nature of the US, which has persistently encroached upon regional countries’ rights to security while seeking the showdown of force with the DPRK,” the report said. DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

South Korea’s unification ministry said the joint military exercise is defensive in nature and aimed at preventing war, stressing that North Korea should not use it as a pretext for further provocations.

“The unification ministry will closely monitor North Korea’s movements and thoroughly check all possibilities in close cooperation with relevant departments to prepare for any potential provocations,” said Kim In-ae, the deputy spokesperson for the ministry, during a press briefing.

–IANS

int/sd/svn

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