Washington: Seoul said in January they had agreed with Washington to postpone the regular military exercises to ensure a peaceful Olympics, and the two Koreas held their first formal talks in more than two years ahead of the Games.
The South Korean and US militaries usually begin the joint military drills in March. The drills can involve as many as 17,000 US troops and over 300,000 South Koreans. This year’s exercises will be held on a similar scale but without key US strategic assets such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers or bombers, Seoul officials said.
North Korea, which calls the drills a rehearsal for war, has threatened to take “counteraction” against the United States if it holds joint military exercises with South Korea.
The secretive state previously unleashed its fury against Mr Trump and accused the USA of aiming to “aggravate the situation on the Korean peninsula at any cost”.
A warning, pumped out by the communist state’s propaganda machine, said the joint drills was America’s way to “to bring dark clouds of a war to hang over the Korean Peninsula”.
Pyongyang’s mouthpiece Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said: “If the US finally holds joint military exercises while keeping sanctions on the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), the DPRK will counter the US by its own mode of counteraction and the US will be made to own all responsibilities for the ensuing consequences.
Tensions also have escalated on the peninsula after the US announced it was imposing its largest package of sanctions aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programmes.