North Korea has accused the US of readying for war by holding drills with South Korea’s military, and said the Trump administration is “reneging on its commitments.”
“It is crystal clear that it is an actual drill and a rehearsal of war aimed at militarily occupying our Republic by surprise attack and rapid dispatch of large-scale reinforcements,” North Korea’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
The US and South Korea will conduct the “Alliance 19-2” Dong Maeng drill from August 5 to August 23, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported in July.
North Korea said that President Donald Trump had promised Kim Jong Un that joint military exercises between the US and South Korea would be suspended as part of the deal brokered at the June 2018 Singapore summit.
By holding the drills in August, Pyongyang said, the US is breaking that commitment.
“With the US unilaterally reneging on its commitments, we are gradually losing our justifications to follow through on the commitments we made with the US as well,” the statement said, alluding to the possibility of restarting nuclear tests.
In exchange for the US ending military drills on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea agreed to take further steps toward denuclearization, and cease ballistic missile testing.
Kim reneged on that promise in May 2019 by testing a short-range missile.
“The United States is going to conduct a joint military exercise “Alliance 19-2″ with south Korea in contravention of the commitments made at the highest level at a time when the working-level talks between the DPRK and the US are on the agenda, which has been made possible by the DPRK-US summit meeting in Panmunjom.”
Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed the drill would go ahead to CNN.
“Republic of Korea (ROK) and US military forces are preparing to conduct a combined training program this fall. Working with the ROK, this training program has been adjusted to maintain readiness and support diplomatic efforts,” he said.
“This routine combined training demonstrates the United States’ commitment to the ROK-US alliance and defense of the Korean peninsula through activities that enhance combined readiness.”
In March 2019, Trump lamented that military drills with South Korea were becoming “very, very expensive.”
“I was telling the generals, I said: Look, you know, exercising is fun and it’s nice and they play the war games. And I’m not saying it’s not necessary, because at some levels it is, but at other levels it’s not.”
On Tuesday, Trump said the upcoming drill was not an issue, and that background talks with North Korea were progressing well.
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “At some point. I’m in absolutely no hurry. We can probably do something that will be very good for them and for everybody and the world.”
Trump and Kim have met three times during Trump’s presidency. They gathered in June 2018 for the nuclear summit in Singapore; in February 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam; and in June 2019 at the Demilitarized Zone separating North Korea and South Korea.