Published: Tue, August 22, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

US, South Korea start annual military drill amid North Korea tension

US, South Korea start annual military drill amid North Korea tension

Tens of thousands of South Korean and USA troops are taking part in the "Ulchi Freedom Guardian" joint military drills, a largely computer-simulated exercise that runs for two weeks in the South.

"There is no intent at all to heighten military tension on the Korean peninsula as these drills are held annually and are of a defensive nature", Moon told cabinet ministers.

A report Pyongyang has earned millions of dollars in exports seemed likely, meanwhile, to raise doubts about the impact of sanctions to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

"UFG is computer simulated defensive exercise created to enhance readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula", it said.

"Perception is in the eyes of the beholder, and I will hope that no one will test U.S. on the perception that we've had a problem with USS John McCain and three other assets - that would be a very foolhardy thing to do", Harris told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.

Harris and Brooks offered strong praised US' missile defense systems Tuesday, both made it clear that the current situation on the Korean Peninsula must be resolved diplomatically.

As the Associated Press noted, the drills "hold more potential to provoke than ever", and some are calling on the US and South Korea "to postpone or drastically modify drills to ease the hostility on the Korean Peninsula".

North Korea has noted Australia's involvement and Turnbull's recent statement that the nation would "come to the aid" of the United States under the provisions of the ANZUS treaty if there was a military confrontation with North Korea.

The planned rocket salvo was delayed by the North Korean leader last week but he warned it could go ahead depending on Washington's next move.

DPRK stands for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

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

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said North and South Korea and the United States all needed to make more effort to ease tension.

China and Russian Federation back an idea known in shorthand as "freeze for freeze" - suggesting that the US and South Korea should suspend its large scale annual exercises in exchange for Pyongyang halting its nuclear and missile tests. During last year's drills, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submarine and put its military on the highest alert.

The United States has about 28,000 troops in South Korea.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Sunday the reduction in the number of U.S. troops taking part reflected a need for fewer personnel and was not because of tension with North Korea.

This year, the US has scaled back the number of troops participating by about eight thousand, but Defense Secretary James Mattis says that's not because of heightened tensions.

Other allies will join the exercises this year, including soldiers from Australia, the UK, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

The North Korean statement accused the United States of deploying unspecified "lethal" weapons for the drills that it says involve a "beheading operation" training aimed at removing absolute ruler Kim Jong Un.

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