Just days after North Korea confirmed a provocative test a new “super-large” rocket launcher which sent two projectiles 200 miles where they crashed into the sea, Pyongyang has blasted US plans to resume combined aerial exercises with South Korea.
In a charged statement, Kwon Jong Gun, the DPRK's permanent roving ambassador, said such a resumption would destroy any good will built up with the US administration after the recent series of talks between Trump and Kim Jong Un.
He said, according to an official press release: "The U.S. reckless military frenzy is an extremely provocative and dangerous act of throwing a wet blanket over the spark of the DPRK-U.S. dialogue on the verge of extinction and stoking the atmosphere of confrontation on the Korean peninsula and the region."
This after "the U.S. Defense Department officially announced that it is pushing ahead with the procedure for resuming the combined aerial exercise with the south Korean army in December," according to the statement.
The North Korean ambassador said resumption of military exercises aimed at the DPRK marks a violation of the June 2018 US-North Korea summit in Singapore, which he characterized as "reckless military frenzy" and an "extremely provocative and dangerous act".
"The U.S. intention to openly hold war exercise against the DPRK at a sensitive time when the whole world is concerned about the prospect of the DPRK-U.S. relations clearly proves again its nature as the chieftain harassing world peace and security and the hegemonic state regarding the recourse to military strength as a cure-for-all in settling issues," the statement continued. "Our patience is nearing limitations," the statement concluded.
Restart of US-#ROK aerial military exercises "an extremely provocative and dangerous act of throwing a wet blanket over the spark of the DPRK-US dialogue on the verge of extinction," says #DPRK roving ambassador. pic.twitter.com/nfbBeDGWrS— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) November 6, 2019
The ambassador's angry condemnation comes after earlier in the day military magazine Stars and Stripes confirmed the joint drills would move forward as planned, citing US military officials.
According to the report:
The United States and South Korea will hold a combined air exercise next month to replace the former annual drills known as Vigilant Ace, officials said.
The allies canceled Vigilant Ace and several other joint drills last year to facilitate nuclear talks with North Korea, which considers them a rehearsal for an invasion.
“There are no plans to skip upcoming combined exercises,” Army Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said Tuesday in Washington, giving it a generic name. “We are proceeding with the Combined Flying Training Event as planned.”
Crucially, working talks between Kim and Trump are rumored to continue as early as December. If so, we could be witnessing early jockeying for leverage ahead of such a potential summit.