White House Continues to Talk Up 'Preventative War' Against North Korea

22 Août, 2017, 04:44 | Author: Claudine Rigal

Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director-general at the United Nations nuclear agency, said an arsenal of dozens of weapons might suggest North Korea seeks the capacity to retaliate in a nuclear war.

Called Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), the joint drills have their roots in a 1968 raid on South Korea's Blue House presidential complex, when Unit 124 of the North Korean army secretly entered South Korea and unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate the then president, Park Chung-hee.

According to the US Department of Defense, a total of 17,500 US forces are expected to participate in the exercise from August 21-31, including 3,000 troops that are not based in South Korea.

As part of the exercises, imagery from military satellites orbiting above the Korean peninsula, is at times used to peer deep into North Korea, said a former South Korean government official who declined to be identified.

"We are watching every move of the United States", said Pyongyang in a statement.

US President Donald Trump threatened North Korea with "fire and fury" after Pyongyang's latest missile tests and tweeted that "military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely". A half-dozen weapons would suggest pure deterrence, said Heinonen, who estimates that North Korea now has enough fissile material for up to 40 weapons - about 10 using plutonium and 30 using uranium. North Korea on the other hand wants the U.S.to drop its hostile policies before agreeing to talks.

North Korea has repeatedly called for an end to large-scale joint military exercises between the allies in exchange for a freeze on its nuclear and missile programmes. During last year's exercises, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submarine and put its military on the highest alert.

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The exercise is a computerized command-and-control simulation, said a spokeswoman for US Forces in Korea.

Foal Eagle/Key Resolve is usually held for several weeks in spring, while Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG) is held in autumn. Such a wide range affects how the US considers addressing the threat.

Some experts say North Korea is mainly focused on the bigger picture of testing its bargaining power against the United States with its new long-range missiles and likely has no interest in letting things get too tense during the drills.

North Koreans are constantly told the USA wants to destroy their country - but have no idea what their sworn enemy's leader looks like.

China and Russian Federation earlier proposed a halt on military exercises in exchange for a freeze on missile tests. Pyongyang eventually reneged on an agreement to dismantle its nuclear reactors - one among many reasons the US doesn't trust North Korea.

Washington describes the drills as defensive in nature, but the North sees them as preparation for invasion.

"When you increase the number, it means normally you're going a little bit more offensive, you plan to have a second-strike capability", Heinonen said.


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