N Korea Threatens to Upend Nuclear Talks Due to US ‘Reckless Military Frenzy’

08-Nov-2019 Intellasia | US News | 7:04 AM Print This Post

NORTH KOREA THREATENED Wednesday to walk away from upcoming talks with the US if it doesn’t further curtail planned military exercises with South Korea in December.

In a statement published through its state news service, Kwon Jong Gun with North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said upcoming air force exercises between the allies amounts “to a declaration of confrontation with the DPRK,” using the country’s preferred acronym for itself.

The ambassador described the Pentagon’s intentions to proceed with already pared down exercises as “reckless military frenzy” that is “extremely provocative and dangerous.” Continuing with the exercises will “compel us to reconsider the crucial measures we have already taken.”

The statement comes weeks before North Korean and American delegates are slated to meet in an attempt to restart talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in April issued a end of the year deadline for an agreement. Similar negotiations in Stockholm in October collapsed over disagreements regarding the timing of lifting US sanctions in exchange for verifiable evidence of denuclearisation.

 (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of future events but stressed the importance of continued military cooperation with South Korea.

“We have always, and will continue to conduct exercises, including combined air exercises, in order to maintain our readiness, enhance the US and [South Korea's] interoperability, while allowing the diplomats the space they need to have open dialogue with North Korea,” Army Lt. Col. David Eastburn says.

A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment about the exercises and upcoming diplomatic negotiations, referring questions to the Pentagon.

The issue of joint military exercises between the US and South Korea which both countries consider essential to their alliance against North Korean threats has become a signature complaint of Pyongyang’s. It was among the only tangible outcomes of the high profile but largely ineffectual summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore last year, after which President Donald Trump adopted North Korea’s preferred characterisation of the exercises as “war games” and pledged they would end.

The Pentagon has quietly proceeded with some exercises, though then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced last year the US would temporarily suspend high-profile air exercises known as “Vigilant Ace” to, as he said at the time, “give the diplomatic process every opportunity to continue.”

The latest exercises are a pared down version of the traditionally high-profile Vigilant Ace aerial operations that previously involved hundreds of South Korean and US aircraft, including sophisticated stealth bombers. Defense officials said earlier this week that they would cancel Vigilant Ace for the second time, but that limited flight exercises would proceed, according to Military.com.

“Our patience is nearing the limitations and we will never remain an onlooker to the reckless military moves of the US,” the North Korean official said in the statement.

https://www.usnews.com/news/world-report/articles/2019-11-06/north-korea-threatens-to-upend-nuclear-talks-due-to-us-reckless-military-frenzy

 


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