200,000 South Korean soldiers and 12,800 U.S. troops participated in the annual drills which include computer war games, and live firing exercises and will last 11 days.
North Korea has called the drills a rehearsal for an invasion. In a commentary carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, The North’s main newspaper Rodong Sinmun said “It’s an anti-national scheme aimed at prolonging the stage of confrontation and tension to realize a plot to start a northward invasion.” “The danger of a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula is deepening.”
South Korean and U.S. officials have repeatedly said the drills are aimed at defending South Korea. The drills planned months in advance, are not influenced by world events. On February 27, The North said that if provoked, it’s military would turn Seoul into “a sea of flames” and start a full scale war with “merciless” counterattacks. The renewed tensions jeopardize the baby steps that were being made in North and South relations.
North Korea had recently pushed for dialogue with the South and expressed a desire to return to international talks on it’s nuclear program.
Military officers from the two Koreas met earlier this month but failed to make progress.