Top U.S. military officials stated that South Korea and the United States will move forward with joint combat drills.
A day after the United States and Japan both stepped up defence cooperation with the two allies moving to strengthen their partnership as tensions in East Asia remain high over North Korea's nuclear threat, South Korea and the U.S. are gearing up for war games to counter any potential threat from Pyongyang. Tensions between the US and North Korea continue to remain high as the rogue nation accelerates its development of nuclear missiles.
North Korea has already released a statement regarding the announced exercise through the Central News Agency. Training exercises like UFG are carried out in the spirit of the October 1, 1953, ROK-U.S. "As long as the threat in North Korea exists, we need to maintain a high state of readiness to respond to that threat".
Soldiers of the combined forces take part in a joint military exercise at a beach in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province on November 12, 2016.
Tensions escalated in July after Pyongyang conducted two intercontinental ballistic (ICBM) missile tests and claimed the projectiles are capable of reaching the United States mainland and carrying a nuclear weapon, an assessment some regional and Western analysts concur with. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that its neighbor is crossing the red line with these tests.
The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian drills have taken place every two years and will kick off just as the USA prepares for a total solar eclipse that will track across the entire country. According to officials, it will be attended by about 17 500 people from the United States.
The war games, details of which are a closely guarded secret, simulate military conflict with the isolated country.