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North Korea threatened on Tuesday to take unspecified “responsible” military action in response to the ongoing joint military drills between South Korea and the U.S., drills North Korea claims are part of an invasion plot.

The North’s warning came a day after South Korean and U.S. forces began their annual computer-simulated command post training and a variety of field exercises for an 11-day run. The drills this year are expected to feature 48 field exercises, twice as many as last year.

In a statement published by state media, the North’s Defense Ministry said it “strongly denounces the reckless military drills of the U.S. and [South Korea] for getting more undisguised in their military threat to a sovereign state and attempt for invading it.”

A ministry spokesperson said the North’s military will “continue to watch the adventurist acts of the enemies and conduct responsible military activities to strongly control the unstable security environment on the Korean Peninsula.”


U.S. Army Apache helicopters

U.S. Army Apache helicopters take off at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, on March 4, 2024. (AP)

The spokesperson did not specify what military action the North would take, but some observers speculate that it will likely conduct missile tests or other steps to bolster its war capability.

The South’s Defense Ministry said later Tuesday that its drills with the U.S. are regular, defensive training and that the South will produce an overwhelming response if the North launches direct provocations against it during the drills.

The North views South Korean-U.S. military drills as invasion rehearsals, although South Korean and U.S. officials have repeatedly said they have no intentions of attacking the North. The North has previously responded to the military exercises by launching missiles into the sea.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said last week that this year’s military drills with the U.S. were aimed at neutralizing the North’s nuclear threats and would involve live-firing, bombing, air assault and missile interception drills.


Kim Jong Un speaks

Leader Kim Jong Un said the North would not seek reconciliation with the South and he would eliminate the country’s long-standing goal of peaceful reunification. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Concerns about the North’s nuclear program have grown in the past two years, as it has test-launched missiles at a record pace and openly threatened to preemptively use nuclear weapons. In response, the South and the U.S. have expanded their military exercises and increased the deployment of powerful U.S. military assets, including aircraft carriers and nuclear-capable bombers.

This year, the North performed six rounds of missile tests and artillery firing drills.


Leader Kim Jong Un said the North would not seek reconciliation with the South and that he would eliminate the country’s long-running goal of peaceful unification with the South. Kim also said the North would take a more aggressive military position along the disputed sea boundary with the South.

The North is expected to further dial up tensions with more missile tests and warlike rhetoric this year as the South and the U.S. hold major elections. The North may stage limited provocation near the tense border with South Korea this year, according to experts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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