North Korea threatens military action against joint drills
Angela Jung, March 2, 2017, 9:39 a.m.
North Korea on Thursday threatened to take its “toughest counteractions” as South Korea and the US stage their annual military exercise. The Foal Eagle drill began Wednesday in its biggest-ever in scale in the face of heightened tension following Pyongyang’s launch of a new ballistic missile last month, the Pukguksong 2.
“Our army will counter them with the toughest counteractions as it had already declared,” the General Staff of the North’s Korean People’s Army said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
“Should the US imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces fire even a single shell into the waters where the sovereignty of our republic is exercised, the KPA will immediately launch its merciless military counter-actions. The KPA will mercilessly foil the nuclear war racket of the aggressors with its treasured nuclear sword of justice.”
South Korea’s military said it will retaliate “without any hesitance” if Pyongyang pushes ahead with a provocation, stressing the exercise’s regular, defensive nature.
“Should North Korea commit a provocation despite our stern warnings, we will retaliate without any hesitation and protect our people’s lives and properties,” Col. Roh Jae-cheon, spokesperson of Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a news briefing.
The annual drills have long been a source of anger for the cash-strapped regime, which has no option but to respond with some kind of military action.
This year’s Foal Eagle field training exercise would involve some 10,000 US troops and state-of-the-art US strategic assets including the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and F-35b fighters. It is slated to run through the end of next month.
Pyongyang’s state media also said Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has recently instructed the KPA to stage a show of force on April 25 to coincide with the anniversary of its founding and enhance combat readiness.