US says it takes North Korea’s nuclear threat seriously
The United States says it takes seriously the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, but will go on with its planned military exercises.
North Korea has threatened nuclear strikes against the US and South Korea if they go ahead with joint military drills scheduled on Monday.
South Korea and the US started their large-scale military exercises Monday with about 17,000 American troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans taking part in the two sets of annual war games dubbed “Foal Eagle” and “Key Resolve.”
The joint military command said it had notified North Korea of “the non-provocative nature of this training,” which will continue until April 30.
Pyongyang, however, said the exercises are “undisguised nuclear war drills,” which threaten the North’s national sovereignty, and warned of “indiscriminate” nuclear attacks against the US and South Korea in response to “even the slightest military action.”
“We do take those threats seriously and again call on Pyongyang to cease with the provocative rhetoric, cease with the threats and, quite frankly more critically, cease the provocative behavior,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Monday.
“There would not be as compelling a reason to improve alliance capabilities if Pyongyang wasn’t so intent on raising the stakes on the peninsula and decreasing any sense of security or stability there,” Kirby added.
He went on to say that North Korea would be well-advised to stop creating tension and focus on its people and creating peace in the region.
“Kim Jong-Un has a choice he can make, which he clearly seems unwilling to make, which is to ratchet down the tension on the peninsula, to focus his resources and energy on the people of North Korea and on peace and security there in the region, rather than trying to up the ante with these kinds of comments,” Kirby noted.