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North Korea vows ‘fierce’ military response to US drills

Pyongyang warned Washington is “taking a gamble it will regret” by continuing joint military exercises

North Korea has pledged to step up its responses to American and allied military drills on the Korean peninsula, saying a recent flurry of exercises have only served to drive up tensions in the region and would prompt “fiercer” countermeasures. 

In a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Thursday, Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui commented on a summit held between Washington, Seoul and Tokyo over the weekend, where the allies vowed to strengthen military “deterrence” against the DPRK following weeks of contentious drills and a series of missile, rocket and artillery tests by Pyongyang in response.

Choe said increasingly tight security ties between the three states – as well as recent “large-scale war exercises for aggression” – would only “drive the situation on the Korean peninsula into a more unpredictable phase.”

“The more the US concentrates on ‘strengthening the provision of extended deterrence’ to its allies, and the more provocative and pretentious military activities it strengthens on the Korean peninsula and in the region, the fiercer our military response will be in direct proportion to it,” the FM went on, adding “America will realize that it is taking a gamble it will regret” and will soon “approach us as a more serious, realistic and inevitable threat.”

US President Joe Biden met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia last weekend. Ahead of the talks, Biden declared the three-way alliance is “more important than it’s ever been” given increasing “provocations” by North Korea, referring to the hundreds of munitions launched by the DPRK as a show of force against several rounds of joint military exercises in recent months. 

The United States, South Korea and Japan have also reportedly discussed ways to “ramp up pressure” on Pyongyang during the ongoing G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, hoping to “build a broader coalition of like-minded states” to counter North Korea. 

After several years of relative quiet, North Korea has carried out a record number of missile launches in 2022, resuming weapons tests following a self-imposed moratorium agreed during negotiations with then-US President Donald Trump in 2018. The demonstrations appear to have escalated over time, with Pyongyang sending a missile over Japanese territory for the first time in five years in October, and launching a newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into the sea earlier this month amid massive US-South Korean air drills.

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