North Korea Denounces South Korea-US Joint Military Exercises. Source: THE DIPLOMAT BRIEF

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North Korea Denounces South Korea-US Joint Military Exercises

Three days after the alliance’s bilateral drills concluded, North Korea’s state media published a statement denouncing the exercises.

Mitch Shin

By Mitch Shin

September 06, 2022

North Korea Denounces South Korea-US Joint Military Exercises
Credit: Flickr/ (stephan)

North Korea’s state-controlled media KCNA published a statement from the international secretary of the Communist Party in Denmark to denounce the joint military exercises of South Korea and the United States on Sunday.

“The joint military exercises, the outcome of the U.S.’s hostile policy toward the DPRK, is a dangerous nuclear war racket to stifle the DPRK militarily,” the statement said. (DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s official name: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.)

Due to former South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s peace process, under coordination with then-U.S. President Donald Trump until 2021, in the past few years the joint military drills had been scaled down to continue dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Even after talks with North Korea fell apart, the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed the drills.

However, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden reinvigorated the military drills recently. They took place from August 22 to September 1. In turn, North Korea again published statements to pinpoint the drills as the so-called “hostile policy.”

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“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is in a very unstable one [sic] by the U.S. imperialists and the South Korean puppets and is at a crisis in which a nuclear war breaks out anytime,” the statement said.

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Seoul and Washington have consistently called the joint military drills “annual defensive exercises” to prepare appropriate readiness against the rising threats of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. However, North Korea has long deemed the drills a threat to the security of the country.

“The Korean People’s Army will never remain an onlooker to the reckless nuclear war exercises, but firmly defend the sovereignty of the country and the socialist system from the aggressive maneuvers of the hostile forces,” the statement said.

Despite North Korean leaders’ previous provocative remarks over the joint military drills of the South and the U.S., KCNA used other sources to denounce this year’s drills. On the same day that KCNA published the statement from the Communist Party in DeNmark, it also published a research report titled “The U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises are the cancer-like factor harassing peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region” from the Society for International Politics Study, the North’s domestic research institute, on its website.

“The U.S. has steadily renewed the nuclear war scenarios aimed at the DPRK after setting it as the main means of its policy towards the DPRK to stifle our ideology and social system by strength, and has driven the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of a war while training and perfecting the scenarios through all sorts of joint military drills,” the report said.

The report also elaborated on Pyongyang’s claim that South Korea-U.S. joint military drills as “a hostile policy” and “aggressive war drills.”

Compared with the unexpectedly provocative and belligerent words from Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, toward Yoon and his “audacious initiative” to entice Pyongyang to pursue the denuclearization of his country last month, the two published statements from KCNA on Sunday seem to be Pyongyang’s strategic decision to convince the international community and its unknown allies that the North faces serious and grave threats from South Korea and the U.S.

As Pyongyang is now well-positioned to show off either its advanced missile programs or nuclear power as a tit-for-tat response to the joint military drills of the South and the U.S., the published statements appeared to be a warm-up. Considering the possible damage from the powerful Typhoon Hinnamnor this week, and China’s quest to keep the region calm in the lead-up to its important National Party Congress starting on October 16, however, North Korea might have difficulties conducting actions that can be considered a grave threat to the South and the U.S. in the short term.

In the wake of the Ukraine and Taiwan crisis, China and Russia are strengthening ties to confront the rising leverage of the U.S. and its allies in the region. As part of the Vostok 2022 exercises, they conducted their own drills jointly on the east coast of the Korean Peninsula. As China and Russia are gathering their power to prepare for the new Cold War in the region, North Korea might have been asked not to conduct a nuclear test for a while.

Under the North’s five-year military modernization plan, however, it is a matter of time before Kim will approve his military to conduct the test to achieve the plan and his pledge to build more powerful nuclear weapons.

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