Bloomberg News

U.S. Starts Military Drills With S. Korea as North Warns of Confrontation

February 26, 2012

The U.S. and South Korea began annual military drills over the objections of North Korea, which called the exercises a violation of its sovereignty that could lead to confrontation.

“The war drills are an unpardonable infringement upon the sovereignty and dignity” of North Korea, the official Korean Central News Agency said today in an editorial. “The army and people of the DPRK are fully ready to fight a war,” the editorial said, referring to the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The comments came two days after new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his military, the world’s fourth-biggest, to “make a powerful retaliatory strike” if the country’s territory is violated. The “Key Resolve” exercises that began today include 2,100 American personnel and will last until March 9, U.S. military spokesman Kim Yong Kyu said by phone.

South Korea held live-fire naval drills in disputed waters on Feb. 20 and temporarily evacuated residents from nearby islands after North Korean warnings raised concerns of a repeat of an attack on a South Korean island in 2010 that killed four people. Kim’s regime has dismissed overtures from South Korean President Lee Myung Bak for bilateral dialogue.

U.S.-North Korea talks in Beijing last week yielded “a little bit of progress,” according to U.S. special representative Glyn Davies. The meeting was the first of its kind since Kim Jong Un became head of the totalitarian, nuclear- armed state following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. North Korea backed out of six-nation talks aimed at getting it to abandon its nuclear weapons program in 2009.

Rocket Launchers

North Korea upgraded its long-range multiple rocket launchers and deployed some of them, Yonhap News said today, citing an unidentified South Korean government official. The country may unveil the launchers during a military parade on April 15, the 100th birthday of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung, the report said.

The United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission notified North Korea about the specifics of the drill on Jan. 27, according to an e-mailed statement from the U.S. forces in Korea.

The two Koreas remain technically at war after their 1950-1953 conflict ended without a peace treaty.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rose Kim in Seoul at rkim76@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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