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South Korea and US troops will hold massive live-fire drills near the border with North Korea

Seoul, South Korea — The South Korean and US military were due to begin live-fire drills near the border with North Korea on Thursday, despite the North’s warning that it would not tolerate what it calls such a hostile repeat invasion of his door.

Thursday’s exercises, the first of five rounds of allied firing exercises through mid-June, mark 70 years since the establishment of the military alliance between Seoul and Washington. North Korea has generally reacted to these large South Korean-American exercises with tests of missiles and other weapons.

Since the start of 2022, North Korea has tested more than 100 missiles, but none since firing a solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile in mid-April. North Korea has argued that its blistering pace of testing was meant to respond to expanded military drills between the United States and South Korea, but observers say the North aims to advance its weapons development and then extract greater concessions from rivals in eventual diplomacy.

The U.S.-South Korean fire drills, called “the Combined Annihilation Firepower Drills,” are said to be the largest of their kind. The drills have been held 11 times since they began in 1977, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.

Ministry officials said this year’s drills were expected to involve advanced stealth fighter jets, attack helicopters, multiple rocket launchers and other weapons from South Korea and the United States. It was not immediately clear how many soldiers would take part in the drills, but previous drills in 2017 drew around 2,000 troops and 250 weapons from both countries.

An earlier statement from the Ministry of Defense said the exercises are intended to improve the combined operational performance capabilities of allies. He said South Korea and the United States would seek to establish “overwhelming deterrence and response capabilities” to deal with North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

Last Friday, North Korea’s state media called the drills a “typical North Korean war rehearsal.” He said North Korea “can only take a more serious note of the fact” that the drills would take place in an area a few kilometers (miles) from its border.

KCNA said the United States and South Korea will face unspecified “corresponding responses” during their series of provocative large-scale exercises.

Earlier this year, the South Korean and US armies conducted their largest field exercises in five years. The United States has also sent the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and nuclear-capable bombers for joint exercises with South Korea.

At their summit last month, US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol announced measures to bolster their deterrent capabilities, such as periodically docking US nuclear submarines in South Korea; strengthen joint training exercises; and the creation of a new nuclear advisory group. Biden also issued a stark warning that any North Korean nuclear attack on the United States or its allies would “bring the end of any regime” taking such a step.

Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, later said the Biden-Yoon summit deal revealed the two countries’ “most hostile and aggressive will for action” against the North. . She threatened to further strengthen her country’s escalating nuclear doctrine, saying that “the pipe dream of the United States and South Korea will now be confronted with the most powerful entity of force”.

Concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program grew after the North passed a law last year that allows the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons. Many foreign experts claim that North Korea does not yet have functioning nuclear missiles.


Find more AP Asia-Pacific coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/asia-pacific

ABC News

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