10.00am: US-South Korea war games ‘expression of hostility’ against North Korea
North Korea has warned that the US will be “pouring gasoline on fire” if it goes ahead with its planned joint military drill with South Korea this week.
Some 17,5000 US troops are set to begin the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) tomorrow, an annual exercise which North Korea has described as “the most explicit expression of hostility against us”.
“No one can guarantee that the exercise won’t evolve into actual fighting,” said an editorial in Pyongyang’s Rodong Sinum state newspaper.
“The Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military exercises will be like pouring gasoline on fire and worsen the state of the peninsula.”
Warning of an “uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war” on the peninsula, it added: “If the United States is lost in a fantasy that war on the peninsula is at somebody else’s doorstep far away from them across the Pacific, it is far more mistaken than ever.”
The war games date back to 1976 and are largely compromised of computer simulations designed to strengthen joint decision making.
There have been widespread calls for the drills to be delayed or cancelled in light of the current US-North Korea impasse.
Relations between the two nuclear powers are at an all-time low after Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) last month, putting the continental US firmly in its crosshairs.
Donald Trump vowed to respond to any further threats with “fire and fury like the world has never seen”.
In response, North Korea threatened to strike waters around the US Pacific territory of Guam.
State media reports that Kim would “watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” before launching any missiles.
Despite the ongoing tensions, Seoul and Washington have said that the UFG will go ahead as planned.
As a small concession, plans to bring two aircraft carriers to the peninsula may be scrapped, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
Yesterday it was reported that the US Air Force had flown a journalist in a F-16 fighter jet “as close as we absolutely can go” to the North Korean border.
ABC News journalist Martha Raddatz was told by a pilot that they were just 10 miles away from Kim’s hermit kingdom, as officials opened up the Andersen Air Force Base to the media to show off its capabilities.
The pilot told Ms Raddatz: “I tell you, it definitely gives you a real purpose for waking up in the morning.
“That’s our mission here, is to be ready to fight at a moment’s notice and that’s why we like to say in the 51st Fighter Wing is that ‘we’re ready to fight tonight’.”