The US and South Korea are planning to move forward with annual military exercises called Ulchi Freedom Guardian early next week despite warnings issued by North Korea’s KNCA news agency that the drills will “will further drive the situation on the Korean Peninsula into a catastrophe.”
The war games are not taken lightly in Pyongyang, Radio Sputnik Loud & Clear host Brian Becker said Tuesday. Indeed, the South Korean defense minister told legislators in Seoul that there’s a "great possibility" the UFG drills will prompt the North to "carry out strategic or tactical provocations to protest the latest UN sanctions and the UFG exercises."
The war of words between North Korea and the US will not interfere in US Forces South Korea’s plans to conduct the routine training operation, which involves tens of thousands of US and South Korean personnel. Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and the country’s top ranking military adviser, told reporters in Beijing on Thursday that the UFG exercises were not up for debate "at any level" and that he has advised the White House not to halt them because of North Korean threats.
"My advice to our leadership is that we not dial back out exercises," Dunford said, since the presence of the North Korean threat requires the US "to maintain a high state of readiness to respond to that threat."
Dunford recently remarked that war on the Korean Peninsula would be a "horrible thing" and that the "military dimension today is directly in support of that diplomatic and economic effort" to persuade Pyongyang to end its ballistic missile and nuclear weapon development program.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for all sides to "dial down the rhetoric and dial up diplomacy" on Wednesday. US President Donald Trump’s threat of "fire and fury" on the peninsula was a "veiled threat of nuclear war," author Stephen Gowan told Loud & Clear this week.
This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.