North Korea warns of 'undesirable' consequences as the US and South Korea get ready for bigger war games

·4 min read
kim jong un north korea missile
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks away from what state media report is a "new type" of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in this photo released by by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on March 24, 2022KCNA via Reuters
  • The US and South Korea are preparing for expanded joint military drills, which will include live field exercises.

  • North Korea has warned the two countries may face "an undesirable consequence."

  • South Korea's president told reporters on Friday that the North could conduct a nuclear test at any moment.

As the US and South Korea prepare for expanded summertime joint military exercises, North Korea is warning that the two allies will face "unprecedented" security challenges and "undesirable" consequences if they do not stop their "military confrontation."

Choe Jin, the deputy director of North Korea's Institute of Disarmament and Peace, a state-run organization operated by the North Korean foreign ministry, told the Associated Press this week that the US-South Korean military drills are "driving the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war."

"Should the US and its allies opt for military confrontation with us, they would be faced with unprecedented instability security-wise," Jin said, adding that "the US should keep in mind that it will be treated on a footing of equality when it threatens us with nukes."

Jin also said that the US should stop its "suicidal policy of hostility" with North Korea if it does not wish to face "an undesirable consequence."

Joint military drills between the US and South Korea, long-time allies, are regular events. Exercises have been smaller in recent years, but this year, the two countries will resume joint field exercises for the first time since 2018, the South Korean defense ministry has said. The North Korean reaction has so far been consistent with responses to past drills, which it regards as a precursor to an invasion.

The summertime military exercises have been scaled down due to COVID-19, attempts to curb tensions with the North, and, during the Trump administration, presidential complaints about the cost of the drills.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol, whose first term began in May, has said though these joint drills should be normalized as a deterrence against North Korea that is again engaging in provocative behavior.

US South Korea missile test
A missile is fired during a joint US-South Korean exercise on South Korea's East Coast, June 6, 2022.South Korean Defense Ministry/Dong-A Daily via Getty Images

"The US and South Korea are clearly demonstrating how close their alliance is," Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation told Insider. "One has to wonder if Kim Jong-Un isn't realizing that this is his fault. If he hadn't done multiple missile tests this year, we would not be out showing the strength of our alliance."

North Korea has conducted 31 missile tests in 2022, including one it claims was its first successful ICBM launch since 2017. On June 6, just 24-hours after North Korea launched eight short-range missiles, the US and South Korea carried out a joint-missile test that the latter's Joint Chiefs of Staff said "demonstrated the capability and posture to launch immediate precision strikes on the origins of provocations, even if North Korea launches missiles from various locations."

North South Korea missile launch TV news
People watch a TV broadcast about a North Korean missile launch at the Seoul Railway Station, June 5, 2022.Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

But South Korea says more provocative testing from the North may be soon to come, including its first nuclear test since September 2017. President Yoon said North Korea is ready to conduct a nuclear test at any moment.

"We believe that not only at the end of this month, but ever since my inauguration, it's fully ready and able to do it whenever it decides," Yoon told reporters on Friday.  In May, CNN reported that the US had assessed that North Korea could be ready to conduct another nuclear test by the end of the month.

Bennett said it would be no surprise if North Korea turned to a nuclear test as their "next major provocation."

"The fact that the US is participating in this training is going to be causing Kim all kinds of concerns," Bennett told Insider. "He doesn't want to strengthen our alliance, but he's been doing a really good job of that this year."

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