South Korean and US forces have commenced computer-simulated military exercises Monday amid tensions over North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.
The joint U.S.-South Korean drills will continue to Aug. 31 and involve computer simulations designed to prepare for war with a nuclear-capable North Korea, Reuters reported Monday.
Few reports state that Pyongyang has generated at least $270 million since February despite UN sanctions.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the joint drills ‘Ulchi Freedom Guardian’ were defensive and has no intention to raise tensions on the peninsula. After all, “these drills are held annually and are of a defensive nature," Moon told Cabinet ministers.
The move should not be exaggerated by North Korea, he said. "The provocations of North Korea regarding this could worsen the situation as the latter is likely to consider the exercise as an excuse" He also warned.
Even though the United States said the exercise as "defensive in nature", a term North Korean state media has dismissed as a "deceptive mask".
"It's to prepare if something big were to occur and we needed to defend our Republic of Korea, said Michelle Thomas, a U.S. military spokeswoman.
Unsurprisingly North Korea believes such exercises as preparations for invasion and has fired missiles and taken other actions to coincide with the military drills in the past.
North and South Korea are technically still at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a ceasefire, not a peace treaty.
North Korea's rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland has lead to heightened regional tension. Further UN-led sanctions appear to have failed to bite deeply enough to change Pyongyang's mind.