North Korea warns of ‘miserable end’ for South Korea, US
North Korea has denounced the largest ever military drills by the US and South Korea a “thrice-cursed provocation,” which Pyongyang sees as rehearsal for an invasion.
The Foal Eagle military exercises, which began on March 7 and will continue till April, include airstrike practices targeting key facilities in the North.
The massive war games involve more than 17,000 American and 300,000 South Korean troops, with warships and aircraft carrying out live-fire drills in the region.
North Korea has responded to the drills with threats of nuclear strike against both Seoul and Washington.
On Wednesday, Pyongyang pledged to wage a “retaliatory battle of justice” which would bring a “miserable end” for South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her American allies.
“What the DPRK warns is not hot air. It will be clearly proved by the miserable end the US and the Park group will meet while going reckless,” said the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, using the formal name for North Korea.
Seoul issued its own harsh-worded statement, warning of a “relentless retaliation” against the North.
“It would be a clear misjudgment on the North’s side if the North believes that it can unnerve our government… with such ridiculous threats,” Seoul’s unification ministry said in a statement.
The US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth is seen at a South Korean naval port in Busan. (AFP file photo)
South Korea and the US accuse North Korea of perusing controversial missile programs aimed at delivering nuclear warheads.
Pyongyang has pledged not to relinquish its nuclear deterrence unless the US ends its hostile policy toward the country and dissolves the US-led military command in South Korea.
Washington has a permanent force of around 28,500 troops in South Korea.
South Korea and the US have also been in formal talks to deploy an advanced US missile defense system called THAAD to the Korean Peninsula, raising worries in China.
Beijing has called on Washington to refrain from deploying the sophisticated missile system to the region, saying it could also be used to target China.
This year’s military drills are being held in the wake of a recent North Korean nuclear test and satellite launch. They are marked by an unprecedented show of force in which more than 50 warships are taking part.
The USS John C Stennis, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, as well as submarines and guided missile cruisers include the US component in the drills.
Pyongyang has responded to the drills with the launch of several short- and medium-range missiles into the sea, including one on Monday.