US, North Korea increase hostility for South Korea by starting largest drills near border

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SEOUL(Reuters) -North Korea has tested more than 100 missiles since early 2022, but not since launching a solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile in mid-April. The test is said to be in response to increased military exercises between the United States and South Korea, but officials hope North Korea will step up its weapons development and then extract greater diplomatic concessions from its rivals. It points out that The joint U.S.-South Korean fire exercise, known as the “Joint Extermination Fire Exercise,” is the largest of its kind, and has taken place 11 times since its inception in 1977, according to South Korea’s defense ministry.

South Korea and US forces held a massive fire drill near the border with North Korea, despite North Korea’s warning that it would not allow a so-called invasion rehearsal on its doorstep. 

The exercise, the first of five live-fire drills scheduled to run through mid-June, marks the 70th anniversary of the Seoul-Washington Military Alliance. North Korea typically responds to such large-scale South Korea-U.S exercises with missile and other weapons tests.

According to South Korea’s defense ministry, 2,500 South Korean and US soldiers and 610 weapons systems, including fighter jets, attack helicopters, drones, tanks and artillery, took part in the exercise. The latest exercise in 2017 involved about 2,000 soldiers and 250 weapons carriers from both countries.

The drill simulated artillery and air strikes on North Korea’s frontline military installations in response to an attack. The unit then practiced precision-guided strikes against simulated targets in the rear area to “completely eliminate” the North Korean military threat, the ministry said in a statement.

North Korea’s Central News Agency said the United States and South Korea are facing an uncertain outcome over a “crazy nuclear war brawl”.

Earlier this year, South Korean and U.S. forces conducted their largest field exercises in five years. The United States also sent the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Nimitz and nuclear-armed bombers to joint exercises with South Korea.

Moon Seong-muk, an analyst at the Seoul-based South Korea National Strategic Institute, said North Korea could take advantage of South Korea-US cooperation. Exercises made an excuse to resume testing activities. He said domestic issues, such as North Korea’s push to expand agricultural production during the rice-growing season, could still influence his decisions about weapons testing. “North Korea can’t help but feel a little nervous about South Korea-US cooperation. The joint fire drill will be the toughest in six years,” Moon said.

U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Seo-yeol announced steps to strengthen deterrence during a meeting last month, including regular moorings of U.S. nuclear-powered submarines in South Korea, increased joint exercises and the establishment of a new nuclear advisory group. bottom. Biden also explicitly warned that a North Korean nuclear attack on the United States or its allies would “bring the end of any regime” that has taken such action.

Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said the Biden-Yoon deal showed the two countries’ “will to take the most hostile and aggressive action” against North KoreaKorea . “The dream tales of the United States and South Korea will now face greater unity of power,” she said, threatening to further strengthen her country’s nuclear doctrine.

Concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program were heightened after the country passed a bill last year that would allow the first use of nuclear weapons. Many foreign experts say North Korea does not yet have operational nuclear missiles.