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US and South Korea begin major military exercises

2024-03-04 10:08:16, Kosova & Bota CNA

US and South Korea begin major military exercises

South Korea and the United States on March 4 began major military exercises to increase their readiness against North Korea's nuclear threats.

The annual military drills are being held after the North escalated hostilities with extended missile tests and toughening rhetoric earlier this year.

South Korean and American forces will conduct various exercises as part of the "Freedom Shield" exercise that will last 11 days, South Korea's Ministry of Defense said.

North Korea has yet to respond to these large annual drills, which it has described in the past as invasion exercises. The North has conducted provocative weapons tests in the past in response to its enemies' joint military exercises.

The South Korean military said last week it would conduct 48 field exercises with US forces this spring. This figure represents a doubling of the exercises that the two countries conducted last year, and the exercises will include bombing, air strikes and missile interception.

Since 2022, North Korea has conducted more than 100 missile tests in a bid to modernize its arsenal, while talks with the US and South Korea have long stalled. In response, the US and South Korea have expanded their exercises and increased the number of deployments of US military assets, such as aircraft carriers and long-range nuclear bombers.

This year, North Korea has conducted six missile tests and held artillery drills. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said his country will abandon its ambitious goal of a peaceful unification with South Korea and take a more aggressive military stance along the disputed maritime border with South Korea. Kim has also vowed to "annihilate" South Korea and the US if provoked, a threat he has made before.

The steps taken by the North have increased concerns that this country may make provocations on the maritime and land borders with the South. But experts have said that the possibility of North Korea carrying out any full-scale attack is small, since Pyongyang knows that its army is smaller than the American and South Korean forces./ REL

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