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Aug 21

N. Korea resumes threats ahead of exercises – Boston Herald

Nuclear tensions are high again between North Korea and the United States days after a much-welcomed cooling-off period with renewed sabre-rattling calling out President Trump by name as the U.S. and South Korea launch joint military maneuvers today.

The Trump groups declaration of the reckless nuclear war exercises ... is a reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war, the report in Rodong Sinmun read, according to CNN. The North Korean government newspaper also promised that the pariah state can at anytime target the U.S. with a merciless strike.

The warning printed in an official North Korean government newspaper came just hours before the U.S. and South Korea were slated today to start the so-called Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises, a 10-day annual military drill on the Korean peninsula.

No one can guarantee that the exercise wont evolve into actual fighting, North Korea claimed in the editorial, according to a South Korean news agency.

The messages come after Pyongyang just last week said it had finalized plans to fire four missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam, though North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un ultimately decided to hold off to watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees, a statement seen as backing down on the threat, possibly under pressure from China.

The new rhetoric means the chances of some type of provocation from North Korea such as another missile test or perhaps a cyberattack are quite high, said Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor of Korean studies at Tufts Universitys Fletcher School. Shortly after last years exercises, for example, North Korea conducted its second nuclear missile test in nine months.

North Korea is very good at smokescreen. They sound crazy, but theyre not crazy, theyre not irrational, Lee said. Theyre very good at sending mixed signals before launching a major attack.

That possibility has prompted some calls for the U.S. to scale back the military exercises. Bay State U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey, who is currently leading a congressional delegation in Korea, China and Japan, said the U.S. should consider modifying the drills if North Korea agrees to freeze its weapons programs.

Were at a stage of tensions that we have not seen for years, Markey told The Wall Street Journal yesterday. Tensions could flare up again.

But others say its likely North Korea is only using the military exercises as an excuse to act out, and, according to Lee, it could even embolden Kim to try to further bully or even blackmail the U.S. and South Korea again and again.

Theres a lot we can do (through diplomacy) to bring the tension down without undermining the security of South Korea or U.S., said Robert S. Ross, a Boston College political science professor. We can do these things quietly without suggesting youre reducing our opposition to North Koreas nuclear program.

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N. Korea resumes threats ahead of exercises - Boston Herald

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