War Games to Begin as US, South Korea Brace for North's Fury

From left Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis shake hands

"The Trump group's declaration of the reckless nuclear war exercises against the DPRK ... is a reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war", Rodong Sinmun said, using the acronym for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the nation's official name.

"These exercises also highlight the longstanding military partnership, commitment and enduring friendship between the two nations, help to ensure peace and security on the peninsula, and reaffirm US commitment to the alliance", the defense officials said.

It added: "Reckless and wild acts of the USA can accelerate its final ruin".

Donald Trump had said the U.S. military is "locked and loaded" should North Korea "act unwisely", having previously warned Pyongyang would face "fire and fury" if it continued to threaten America.

On Tuesday, North Korea said it will never put its nuclear weapons program on the negotiating table as long as the USA keeps up its "hostile policy and nuclear threat".

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The situation has added to pressure on the US and South Korea to stop the military drills.

"The numbers are by design to achieve the exercise objectives and you always pick what you want to emphasize", he said.

"The exercises are very important to maintaining the ability of the alliance to defend itself". There will be no field training during the exercise.

The annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise could evolve into actual fighting, North Korean state media claimed yesterday.

The US has about 28,000 troops in South Korea.

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Both events routinely anger North Korea, which insists that the exercises are rehearsals for an invasion and signs of military aggression towards Pyongyang.

North Korea has warned that the United States will "add fuel to fire" on the situation on the Korean Peninsula by conducting an annual military exercise with South Korea.

Some experts say North Korea is mainly focused on the bigger picture of testing its bargaining power against the United States with its new long-range missiles and likely has no interest in letting things get too tense during the drills.

They can also sometimes involve troops from other allies - last year's UFG saw the participation of nine other countries including the UK, Australia, Denmark and the Philippines.

The United States and South Korea originally planned to deploy two US aircraft carriers, a nuclear-powered submarine and a strategic bomber to the peninsula.

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