Nth Korea threatens Australia over war games

Nth Korea threatens Australia over war games

Nth Korea threatens Australia over war games

North Korea's rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the USA mainland has fueled a surge in regional tension and United Nations -led sanctions appear to have failed to bite deeply enough to change its behavior.

North Korea denounced joint military exercises scheduled to start Monday between the USA and South Korea as "driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war". However, the US and South Korea maintain they are purely defensive.

The allies have said the drills are defensive in nature.

The annual maneuvers, called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, are "the most explicit expression of hostilities against us", proclaimed the Rodong Sinmun - the newspaper of the Workers' Party - urging Washington to exercise restraint and to not deploy nuclear aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the Korean Peninsula.

It described North Korea as the "strongest possessor" of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the U.S. mainland from anywhere.

In a month in which President Trump and the North Korean regime have already traded nuclear threats, analysts predict the routine war games could be tenser than ever.

South Korea's president said on Thursday Pyongyang would be "crossing a red line" if it put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile, and US President Donald Trump has warned that North Korea would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States.

Pyongyang claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb, but this has not been proven, said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Program at the Federation of American Scientists.

The North responded by threatening to fire missiles toward the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam, but later said it was holding off while it waited to see what the United States would do next.

While the allies are pushing ahead with the exercises that date back to 1976, around 17,500 USA troops will participate in the drills - a cutback from past year.

North Korea has long criticized the exercises as hostile acts that raise the threat of an invasion.

It involves tens of thousands of South Korean soldiers.

Pyongyang later said it was holding off firing towards Guam while it waited to see what the United States would do next.

There will be no field training during the current exercise, according to U.S. Forces Korea.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Sunday the reduction in the number of U.S. troops taking part reflected a need for fewer personnel and was not because of tension with North Korea. Japanese Ambassador to South Korea, Yasumasa Nagamine, also joined the meeting.

"I don't know what he's going to do", he said.

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