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United States and South Korea begin drills to prepare for the eventuality of nuclear war

The US and South Korea began Monday’s military exercise. The drill was the US and South Korea’s biggest since the last joint military exercises without North Korea.

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The (Bloomberg) After a pause in significant military exercises failed to persuade North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to make concessions in disarmament negotiations, the US and South Korea started their largest joint military exercise in about five years on Monday.

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Thousands of military men are anticipated to participate in the two-week long Ulchi Freedom Shield drills. In reaction to an invasion from North Korea, the US and South Korea have stated that they are defensive in nature and will include exercises to coordinate forces.

Pyongyang, which has always attacked joint exercises as a precursor to invasion and nuclear war, is almost certain to respond angrily. The government of leader Kim Jong Un has ratcheted up the rhetoric in recent weeks, hinting that it may resume the provocations that were largely put on hold as it fought a Covid outbreak that was first discovered in May and which it said had ended earlier this month.

Ulchi Freedom Shield, according to South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, will feature realistic situations, including safeguarding infrastructure like ports, airports, nuclear power plants, and semiconductor manufacturing. In a cabinet meeting on Monday, Yoon stated that “wars now are totally different from those in the past.”

In order to strengthen security against North Korea, Yoon, a conservative who assumed office in May, promised to reinstate extensive joint drills with the US. His office announced last month that the two allies would cease training over the next few years that used digital command-and-control simulations and instead revert to physically simulating war scenarios on land, at sea, and in the air.

Earlier this month, a coordinated missile defense exercise was held by the US, South Korea, and Japan off Hawaii. The two US allies’ public show of togetherness is a step forward from the security relations that had deteriorated recently due to disagreements resulting from Japan’s colonial domination over the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

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Former President Donald Trump agreed to reduce US-South Korean military exercises during his summits with leader Kim Jong Un in 2018. North Korea has long sought to use the possibility of disarmament negotiations to do so.

Three meetings between Kim and Trump failed to produce any tangible progress toward reducing North Korea’s stockpile of nuclear weapons, which grew while the negotiations stalled. Last month, Kim Yo Jong, the leader’s influential sister, called Yoon’s offer of a disarmament-for-aid agreement “dumb” and disregarded the concept of talking to Seoul.

Moon Jae-in, Yoon’s predecessor, was fearful of upsetting Pyongyang and conducting military exercises in public that would sour relations with China or his rapprochement with North Korea.

North Korea is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017, according to warnings from the US, Japan, and South Korea. Pyongyang is attempting to create warheads that are tiny enough for tactical devices to attack American allies in Asia and boost the capability of bombs that would be transported by intercontinental ballistic missiles to the US.

Any public showing of North Korea’s arsenal would serve as a reminder of the security issues the country poses, which have simmered while President Joe Biden’s government has been preoccupied with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Drills are often the only opportunity for the majority of US troops to engage in extensive, real-world training with their allies because most of them are stationed in South Korea for approximately a year. A US aircraft group has frequently sailed offshore, and at times the operations have included soldiers and equipment from bases in the US and Japan.

About 28,500 US troops are still stationed in South Korea, and military chiefs on both sides have stated that drills are crucial to getting ready for Pyongyang’s potential provocations. The majority of North Korea’s 1 million-man military is stationed close to the boundary established when the cease-fire took effect.

Yoon stated on Monday that in order to safeguard the peace on the Korean Peninsula, “we must maintain a strong security posture.”

(Updates with the beginning of the military training.)

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