North Korea Issues New Threat Over U.S. Military Exercises with South Korea

South Korea and US soldiers watch from an observation post during a joint live firing drill between South Korea and the US at the Seungjin Fire Training Field in Pocheon, 65 kms northeast of Seoul, on April 26, 2017. (Photo credit: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP)

Upcoming military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. come weeks before a critical deadline imposed by Kim Jong Un.

NORTH KOREA THREATENED Wednesday to walk away from upcoming talks with the U.S. if it doesn’t further curtail planned military exercises with South Korea in December.

In a statement published through its state news service, Kwon Jong Gun with North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said upcoming air force exercises between the allies amounts “to a declaration of confrontation with the DPRK,” using the country’s preferred acronym for itself.

The ambassador described the Pentagon’s intentions to proceed with already pared down exercises as “reckless military frenzy” that is “extremely provocative and dangerous.” Continuing with the exercises will “compel us to reconsider the crucial measures we have already taken.”

The statement comes weeks before North Korean and American delegates are slated to meet in an attempt to restart talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in April issued a year-end deadline for an agreement. Similar negotiations in Stockholm in October collapsed over disagreements regarding the timing of lifting U.S. sanctions in exchange for verifiable evidence of denuclearization.

A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of future events but stressed the importance of continued military cooperation with South Korea.

“We have always, and will continue to conduct exercises, including combined air exercises, in order to maintain our readiness, enhance the U.S. and [South Korea’s] interoperability, while allowing the diplomats the space they need to have open dialogue with North Korea,” Army Lt. Col. David Eastburn says.

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SOURCE: U.S. News & World Report – Paul D. Shinkman