South Korea kicks off military drills amid talk of North Korean nuclear test
- Drills are latest in a series of military exercises by South Korea in recent weeks, including joint activities with the United States and Japan
- South Korean lawmakers have said North Korea has completed preparations for what would be its first nuclear test since 2017
Pyongyang has angrily reacted to the South Korean and joint military activities, calling them provocations and threatening countermeasures. Seoul says its exercises are regular and defence-oriented.
Joined by some US forces, the South Korean troops will focus on maintaining readiness and improving the troops’ ability to execute joint operations during the Hoguk drills, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
“The forces will conduct real-world day and night manoeuvres simulated to counter North Korea’s nuclear, missile and other various threats, so that they can master wartime and peacetime mission performance capabilities and enhance interoperability with some US forces,” it said in a statement.
Last week, tensions flared after the North fired a missile, shot more than 500 artillery shells and flew a multitude of warplanes near the skirmish-prone sea border.
Seoul condemned Pyongyang and imposed its first unilateral sanctions in nearly five years, describing the moves as a violation of a 2018 bilateral military pact banning “hostile acts” in the border area.
But the North accused the South’s military of escalating tension with its own artillery firing.