The United States has begun its annual military drills in South Korea with an allied contingent of 17,500 troops. The move has been slammed by North Korea as a needless provocation that could have “catastrophic” consequences for the region.
The move is also opposed by peace activists in South Korea who have taken to the streets to protest against the large scale military exercises.
The moves are also opposed by the only states which border the Korean peninsula, Russia and China. Russia and China have both stated in their joint peace plan that North Korea must stop its missile tests and so too must the United States and South Korea stop their missile tests and joint military exercises in the region.
China and Russia have also both stated that the US should stop delivering the powerful weapons of mass destruction, the THAAD missile systems to South Korea, a request the US has refused to accept.
The current South Koran President Moon Jae-in had campaigned on a pledge to halt deliveries of THAAD to South Korea, but thus far he has not be able to deliver on his promise.
While China, Russia, North Korea and a growing number of ordinary South Koreans are opposed to the drills, the government in Seoul has issued the following statement in an attempt to alleviate tensions,
“The Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) drills are the allies’ annual and defensive exercises. We are urging North Korea to stop its provocations and return to the negotiation table as soon as possible”.
While the official South Korean position states that the drills are defensive in nature, many Koreans on both sides of the 38th parallel disagree and are calling for peace talks between Washington and Pyongyang.