North Korea crisis: United States and South Korea to conduct joint exercise


SEOUL-A new cycle of escalation on the Korean Peninsula looks set to begin this week when the US and South Korea kick off annual military exercises that have a history of enraging Pyongyang.

David Wright, a USA analyst from the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in an emailed statement that the United States should "postpone or significantly restructure" the exercises to reduce the risk of military confrontation.

Ulchi Freedom Guardian is a maneuvers to increase readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula, say Pentagon officials.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reviews the plan for landing missiles near the US territory of Guam in this undated still photo taken from video provided by KRT.

"All South Koreans have worked so hard together to rebuild the country from the ruins of the Korean War", Mr Moon told a press conference on Thursday marking his first 100 days in office.

His comments about averting war echoed similar statements he made Tuesday that only South Korea could give consent to initiate any conflict with the North.

Warning of an "uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war" on the peninsula, it added: 'If the United States is lost in a fantasy that war on the peninsula is at somebody else's doorstep far away from them across the Pacific, it is far more mistaken than ever'. The Pentagon fears that North Korea is developing the hydrogen bomb and can complete it through 6-18 months.

Pyongyang conducted two tests of its long-range missile in July and had threatened to fire four ballistic missiles toward Guam.

The drill is an annual exercise set to begin on Monday.

About 25,000 USA service members joined last year's UFG drills.

USA forces will join military forces from major South Korean units representing all services, as well as South Korean government participants. However, the US and South Korea maintain they are purely defensive.

Beginning Monday, the US and South Korea will engage in an 11-day drill that is practice for a possible invasion of North Korea, which is threatening the war games could lead to "catastrophe".

'If anything, the joint exercises must be strengthened, ' Cheon Seongwhun, who served as a national security adviser to former conservative South Korean President Park Geun-hye, said in an interview.

North Korea claims it has successfully miniaturized a nuclear weapon.

It described North Korea as the "strongest possessor" of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the U.S. mainland from anywhere. The question is how strong it will be.