The South Korean Olympics are over which means that your regular, scheduled jawboning over a war between North Korea and the US can resume: overnight Pyongyang threatened to "counter the US" if Washington holds joint military exercises with Seoul stating that it would not beg for talks with Washington.
“If the US finally holds joint military exercises while keeping sanctions on the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], the DPRK will counter the US by its own mode of counteraction and the US will be made to own all responsibilities for the ensuing consequences,” the North Korean official KCNA news agency said in a commentary on Saturday. "The US should clearly understand this and exercise prudence."
The United States is set to begin joint exercises in early April, a South Korean presidential security adviser said this week according to Yonhap news agency - the latest in a series of drills that the north has regularly described as a threat. The latest exercise has angered North Korea, which has long seen joint drills as a threat.
The KCNA referred to the scheduled drills as an intention by America "to bring dark clouds of a war to hang over the Korean Peninsula." It also called for the US to be denounced by the international community, accusing Washington of aiming to "aggravate the situation on the Korean peninsula at any cost."
Separately, Reuters reported that North Korea also said that it was willing to talk to the United States but said it would never sit with any precondition. A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman was quoted by state media KCNA news agency as saying“we will neither beg for dialogue nor evade the military option claimed by the U.S.”
“Whether peace desired by our nation and the rest of the world settles on the Korean peninsula or a situation that no one desires is developed in the vicious cycle of confrontation depends entirely on the attitude of the U.S.” the spokesman said, according to KCNA.
"In decades-long history of the DPRK-US talks, there had been no case at all where we sat with the US on any precondition, and this will be the case in future, too. The US attitude shown after we clarified our intention for DPRK-US dialogue compels us to only think that the US is not interested in resuming the DPRK-US dialogue.''
The latest jawboning out of North Korea comes after the United States said on Feb 23 that it was imposing its largest package of sanctions to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs. President Donald Trump warned of a”phase two” that could be “very, very unfortunate for the world” if the steps did not work.
North Korea has slammed Trump’s unilateral sanctions against it, but it said it was open to talks with the United States during senior North Korean officials’ visit to South Korea for the Olympics last month.
Incidentally, while the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang last month gave a boost to recent engagement between the two Koreas after sharply rising tensions over the North’s missile program, it appears that any goodwill built up during the brief detente is quickly evaporating.
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Meanwhile, North Korea isn't the only nation that has slammed the US for conducting joint drills with South Korea. Moscow also believes it was Washington's saber-rattling and regular military drills in the region that provoked Pyongyang into "taking some rash action" after months of restraint, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following North Korea's latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test in November.
Both Russia and China have repeatedly proposed a so-called "double-freeze" plan which would see the US suspend military exercises with South Korea in exchange for Pyongyang halting its missile and nuclear tests. However, that plan was swiftly rejected over the summer by the US, which claims it has the right to conduct military exercises with its South Korean ally.