North Korea fumes as US-South Korea hold massive military exercises

21 Aug 2017 | By Abheet Sethi

The US and South Korea are holding annual military exercises, angering North Korea at a time when regional tensions remain high.

America contends that the exercises are defensive while the North considers them a preparation for invasion.

Pyongyang has condemned the exercises as pouring "gasoline on fire."

They come after Pyongyang backed down from its threat to attack the US Pacific territory of Guam.

In context: US and South Korea to conduct military exercises

16 Aug 2017North Korea delays plans to strike US territory of Guam

On August 16, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delayed his decision to fire four ballistic missiles towards Guam, the North's state media reported.

The US said the move isn't enough and that the North should show "intent on denuclearising the Korean peninsula."

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Washington is interested in holding dialogue with Pyongyang, but it's up to Kim.

21 Aug 2017North Korea fumes as US-South Korea hold massive military exercises

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What?What the exercises entail

The US and South Korea hold two sets of large-scale exercises every year.

The soon to be held Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercises will last around 10 days and involve 17,500 US troops and several thousand South Korean soldiers.

The exercises comprise of land, sea and air military drills and computer simulations.

They also include practice drills against terrorist and chemical attacks.

North Korea accuses US of 'ratcheting up war frenzy'

Last week, North Korean state media denounced the exercises, accusing the US of "trying to ratchet up war frenzy while covering up" its "invasive nature." The North normally responds to such exercises through shows of force by conducting missile tests or by deploying troops.

DetailsUS rules out China/Russia suggestion of halting exercises

In July, China and Russia had called for a halt in the exercises in exchange for a freeze on Pyongyang's missile tests.

However, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said last week that the exercises would go on as planned.

He said halting exercises were "not currently on the table as part of the negotiation at any level."