US, South Korea begin computer-simulated drills amid Pyongyang tensions

An image signifying Ulchi Freedom Guardian, an annual joint military training exercise by South Korea and the United States

An image signifying Ulchi Freedom Guardian, an annual joint military training exercise by South Korea and the United States

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the joint drills, called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, were purely defensive and did not aim to raise tensions on the peninsula."There is no intent at all to heighten military tension on the Korean peninsula as these drills are held annually and are of a defensive nature", Moon told Cabinet ministers."North Korea should not exaggerate our efforts to keep peace nor should they engage in provocations that would worsen the situation, using (the exercise) as an excuse", he said.

US and South Korean troops have begun annual drills that come after tensions rose over North Korea's two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month.

He said the military exercises are "not now on the table as part of the negotiations in any way".

The joint U.S. -South Korean drills will continue to August 31 and involve computer simulations created to prepare for war with a nuclear-capable North Korea.

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have grown in recent weeks.

Only weeks ago it said it was considering firing a salvo of missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam. However, the US and South Korea maintain they are purely defensive.

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Last month North Korea test-launched two ICBMs at highly lofted angles, and outside experts say those missiles can reach some USA parts like Alaska, Los Angeles or Chicago if fired at normal, flattened trajectories. North Korea, however, has long viewed the exercises as rehearsals for invasion.

"The Korean People's Army is keeping a high alert, fully ready to contain the enemies".

South Korean and USA forces began computer-simulated military exercises on Monday amid tensions over North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes, amid reports that Pyongyang has generated at least $270 million since February despite U N sanctions.

He pledged to prevent war from breaking out by all means.

"In close collaboration with our allies, there are strong military consequences if the DPRK initiates hostilities", he said.

And, the tensions were ratcheted up further when President Donald Trump made threats of fire and fury to North Korea.

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The United States and the president Trump are in agreement that "whatever option is chosen" in the face of Pyongyang, "a decision would be taken only after consultation with the Republic of Korea and obtained his agreement", he said.

"North Korea must understand that it is because of its repeated provocations that South Korea and the United States have to conduct defensive exercises", Moon was quoted as saying.

IT IS an annual show of force and an intimidating illustration of the power of the partnership between South Korea and the US.

"The drill will definitely provoke Pyongyang more, and Pyongyang is expected to make a more radical response", it said in an editorial.

With 28 500 troops in South Korea, Washington ensures the safety of Seoul since the end of the war in 1953, which sealed the division of the peninsula.

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