North Korea warns of 'merciless strike' ahead of US-South Korea drills

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South Korean president Moon Jae-in warned North Korea not to use his nation's latest round of annual military drills with the USA as an excuse for any further provocations.

The Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise will conclude on August 31 and involves tens of thousands of South Korean soldiers.

Observers have warned that the war games, the first major exercises since North Korea test-fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month (July) that appeared to bring much of the USA within range, could be another flashpoint in the crisis.

Tensions between the USA and North Korea have grown dramatically in recent weeks, with inflammatory statements coming from both sides. The UFG is an annual command-post training largely based on computer simulation. He says the drills are held regularly because of repeated provocations by North Korea.

Last week, North Koreans announced they had finalized a plan to fire four missiles toward the island of Guam, which is considered the USA territory.

The number of United States troops participating this year is lower than last year.

The U.S. and South Korea have begun annual anti-terror drills involving nearly 70,000 troops near the border with North Korea, antagonizing Kim Jong-un", who has threatened an "uncontrollable phase of nuclear war'. "The government will make all efforts to make sure that the current situation doesn't escalate into the crisis of war while working with the worldwide community based on the strong Korea-U.S. alliance". But he added that the diplomatic approach "has to be backed with military threat" if North Korea chooses to move forward with destabilizing actions.

US President Donald Trump assured South Korea he would consult with them before making any military decisions on North Korea, according to Moon.

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"In close collaboration with our allies, there are strong military consequences if the DPRK initiates hostilities", he said.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry official accused Turnbull of abandoning his opposition to Donald Trump's confrontational stance towards Pyongyang, and reminded him that Australia had paid a high price for its involvement in previous USA wars, according to KCNA.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday stressed the need to improve relations between his country and Japan to jointly deal with North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile capabilities, but still noted the need to address their history issues more fairly and squarely.

North Korea claims it has successfully miniaturized a nuclear weapon.

IT IS an annual show of force and an intimidating illustration of the power of the partnership between South Korea and the US. The North's media has said calling them defensive is a "deceptive mask".

That possibility has prompted some calls for the U.S.to scale back the military exercises.

The drills "are not aimed at raising military tensions on the Korean peninsula at all", Moon said in a Cabinet meeting on Monday.

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