A joint naval drill between South Korea and the United States on Friday has apparently enraged North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The drill involved 10 South Korean warships and a U.S. Aegis destroyer, according to MSN.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reports that Kim Jong-Un ordered his military to train hard with the intention to “tear to pieces the Stars and Stripes.”
Friday’s drill was just the beginning of joint exercises between South Korea and the United States. The annual field training exercises, called Foal Eagle, is expected to begin Monday and last for eight weeks. More than 200,000 Koreans and 3,700 U.S troops are expected to participate in the drill, which will involve air, ground and naval field training, according to MSN.
Seoul and Washington claim the exercises are for defense purposes only. However, North Korea believes they are a rehearsal for war.
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"The DPRK will wage a merciless sacred war against the U.S. now that the latter has chosen confrontation," the country's official KCNA news agency said, quoting from an article in the ruling Workers' Party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmum, as reported by Reuters. DPRK is an acronym for The Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The article also stated that "[n]uclear weapons are not a monopoly of the U.S.,” and "[t]he U.S. is seriously mistaken if it thinks its mainland is safe."
North Korea offered to suspend its nuclear testing if the joint drills were canceled. Washington, however, rejected this offer and interpreted it as a threat to carry out a fourth atomic drill, MSN reports.
A bill has been approved by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in Washington, which would increase sanctions against North Korea in an attempt to pressure it into surrendering its nuclear weapons, according to Reuters.
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This bill would primarily have an effect on companies doing business with North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, and Chinese companies.
Washington is interested in a dialogue with Pyongyang, but states that nuclear issues are of most importance and all other discussions will need to take a back seat.
"There are other things that can be discussed ... but at the core is the nuclear program,” said U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.