News / Asia

    US, South Korea Begin War Games Amid North Korean Threats

    South Korean (blue headbands) and U.S. Marines take positions as amphibious assault vehicles of the South Korean Marine Corps fire smoke bombs during a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang, South Korea, March 12, 2016.
    South Korean (blue headbands) and U.S. Marines take positions as amphibious assault vehicles of the South Korean Marine Corps fire smoke bombs during a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang, South Korea, March 12, 2016.
    VOA News

    The United States and South Korea began a series of annual joint military exercises Saturday, after days of threats by North Korea that it will retaliate if the war games turn into an attack — threats generally made each year.

    The annual U.S. and South Korean exercises last eight weeks and are meticulously planned. Saturday's activities began with U.S. and South Korean troops in assault vehicles storming a beach on South Korea's east coast.

    South Korea's Defense Ministry is calling the exercises "the largest scale ever," with 300,000 South Korean and at least 17,000 U.S. troops participating.

    A U.S. statement released before the exercises began said about 55 U.S. Marine aircraft and 30 U.S. and South Korean ships are taking part in the war games near Pohang City.

    U.S. Army self-propelled howitzers are on positions during the annual exercise with their South Korean counterpart in Pocheon, near the border with North Korea, March 10, 2016.
    U.S. Army self-propelled howitzers are on positions during the annual exercise with their South Korean counterpart in Pocheon, near the border with North Korea, March 10, 2016.

    North Korea's military has said it is prepared to counter the U.S. and South Korean forces "with an ultra-precision blitzkrieg strike of the Korean style."

    In response, South Korea's Defense Ministry has warned Pyongyang against "rash behavior" and "provocations."

    Missing N. Korean sub

    Meanwhile, CNN reports a North Korean submarine has gone missing off the east coast, prompting a search that U.S. officials say seems to have lasted several days. U.S. military officials say they have been watching the investigation for days.

    It is unclear whether the sub is adrift underwater or has sunk entirely, but officials say it was carrying out an exercise when it seemed to suffer some type of failure.

    In another development, North Korean state media report that leader Kim Jong Un ordered the country to improve its nuclear attack capability after watching a recent ballistic missile launch test.

    North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kim saying he wanted "more nuclear explosion tests to estimate the destructive power of the newly produced nuclear warheads and other tests to bolster up the nuclear attack capability."

    A South Korean army soldier walks by a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with superimposed letters that read: "North Korea's nuclear warhead" during a news program at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 9, 2016.
    A South Korean army soldier walks by a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with superimposed letters that read: "North Korea's nuclear warhead" during a news program at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 9, 2016.

    It says Kim declared that the DPRK would make its enemies "regret their misjudgment" and "reckless action."

    On Thursday, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles that traveled about 500 kilometers before falling into the water off the country's east coast.

    Response to drills

    The missile tests were likely in response to massive military drills by South Korea and the United States, which Pyongyang has called a preparation for invasion.

    Following the tests, Pyongyang said it will "liquidate" all remaining South Korean assets on its territory, referring to two abandoned joint projects: the Kaesong industrial complex and the Mount Kumgang tourism resort, both inside North Korean borders.

    The North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea also said it is nullifying all agreements with South Korea on economic cooperation and exchange programs, and threatened military and economic actions against the South Korean government.

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    Comments
         
    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    March 13, 2016 5:47 PM
    North Korea cannot be allowed to think that they have a chance to take over South Korea militarily, finishing the Korean War in their favor. A credible defense is the only thing keeping them from thinking so. With their economy, they will never be able to develop this capability. The status quo is fine with everyone else, as long as they can bear continuing to live like paupers. Nuclear terrorism is not going to work because they would never be able to save themselves in the process.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 13, 2016 9:32 AM
    What foolish person would really believe that the US and South Korean governments would launch a conventional military attack on North Korea (after) the North Koreans threatened to use their defensive nuclear weapons on their conventional military forces if they attacked? .. It'd be like bringing a knife to a gun fight?

    Think about it? .. These US and South Korean conventional military exercises are a total waste of men, money and military equipment? .. The US should prepare for a small nuclear war against North Korea, and forget about these useless conventional war games? .. Will the US be the first country to attack a nuclear armed county?

    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 13, 2016 12:15 AM
    Using logic? .. No country (including the US) would launch a conventional military attack (no matter how large) on North Korea because they have defensive nuclear weapons to defend their country, even from the US with the greatest military in the history of the world? .. a 300,000 man South Korean military? .. are you kidding me? .. Who's guarding their military bases while they're away playing war games?

    These US and South Korean conventional military exercises simulating an attack on North Korea are just a total waste of men, money and military equipment? .. The US and South Korea have been holding these military exercise on the Korean DMZ border for the last 65 years, [but yet], these military exercises haven't accomplished anything at all? .. So.. why do them?

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