“We will launch an all-out offensive to decisively counter the U.S. and its followers’ hysteric[al] nuclear war moves“, a newsreader on the state-run North Korean KRT news channel said of the latest exercises.
Isolated North Korea has rejected criticism of its nuclear and rocket programmes, even from old ally China, and last week leader Kim Jong Un ordered his country to be ready to use nuclear weapons in the face of what he sees as growing threats from enemies. The resolution that brought about the sanctions aims to cripple the economic factors that fuel the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
“If we push the buttons to annihilate the enemies even right now, all bases of provocations will be reduced to seas in flames and ashes in a moment”, the statement said.
The military exercises in the South include ground, air, naval and Special Operations personnel, and include 17,000 US troops and 300,000 South Korean soldiers.
The massive joint exercises are likely to trigger a military response from North Korea.
South Korea has accused North Korea of trying to hack into government websites and smartphones amid rising tensions between the neighbors, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Any strike would not just target operational theatres on the Korean peninsula, but also United States bases on the mainland and in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.
Analysts say one part of North Korea’s traditional anger over the drills is that they force the impoverished country to respond with its own costly war games.
The threat comes a week after the Security Council voted to impose an array of sanctions against North Korea because of that nation’s recent nuclear test and missile launch, both of which defied worldwide sanctions.
But Hong was evasive when quizzed by reporters on whether China would stop importing North Korean iron ore in the wake of the sanctions. North Korea has denied any involvement in the hacking. “You’d want the element of surprise”.
Worldwide sanctions were adopted following tough measures that were signed into law in Washington, and Seoul is expected take on additional sanctions against North Korea, after suspending operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a jointly operated factory park in North Korea. Seoul defense officials believe North Korea doesn’t yet have a workable re-entry vehicle necessary to get a warhead safely back into the Earth’s atmosphere; this is something not tested in satellite launches.
About 28,500 American troops are still on the Korean Peninsula, the result of the security alliance formed during the Korean War.