After Pyongyang missile tests: US and South Korea begin military exercise

After the Pyongyang missile tests
US and South Korea launch military drills

North Korea only reported testing a nuclear weapons system over the weekend. Soon after, South Korea and the United States begin one of their regular joint military exercises to bolster defenses. Pyongyang sees it as a “dress rehearsal for a war”.

Amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, US and South Korean forces are holding one of their regular drills. The nine-day commando exercise began as planned on Monday, a spokesman for United States Forces Korea (USFK) said. This is a semester-based defense training course using computer simulations. Among other things, the corona virus infection process is also taken into account. There are no field exercises.

The so-called personnel framework exercise is about the cooperation of management personnel. According to the information, it is intended to serve the two allies “to strengthen the joint operational capacity and improve the defensive position”. The USFK did not provide any information on the number of soldiers involved.

At the start of the exercises, the US special representative for North Korea arrived in Seoul for talks. According to the United States, Sung Kim wants to meet his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu Duk and other officials during his five-day visit. Upon his arrival, the US envoy said he was in Seoul to continue “close coordination” on developments in North Korea, Yonhap news agency reported. Washington is still open to talks with North Korea without preconditions, but Pyongyang has so far rejected such offers, Kim said.

North Korean missile tests raise tension

North Korea regularly accuses the United States of preparing for an attack through its military exercises in South Korea and describes the training as a “dress rehearsal for a war”. Washington and Seoul dispute this. The United States has deployed 28,500 troops to South Korea to deter threats from North Korea.

Tensions have risen again after a series of missile tests by North Korea this year. The country, which is largely isolated due to its nuclear weapons programme, said it tested a new “tactically guided missile” on Saturday aimed at boosting its nuclear power. It indicated that the weapon was capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Experts suspected that a short-range missile was being tested. Satellite images also show signs of new activity in a tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Pyongyang has not tested any nuclear weapons since 2017. UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from testing any type of missile that can be fitted with nuclear warheads.

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