North Korea slams next week's US-South Korea military exercises


Two dozen Australian defence personnel are taking part in a 10-day military exercise, working in the command and control post.

US fears about North Korea's missile and nuclear bomb programs have grown in recent weeks.

Top U.S. general Joseph Dunsford said on Thursday the United States and South Korea would go ahead with joint military drills next week despite pressure from North Korea and its main ally, China, to halt the contentious exercises that Pyongyang routinely describes as preparation for war.

North Korean news agency KCNA has since reported that Australia's allegiance to the U.S. and its decision to take part in a military drill in South Korea was a "suicidal act".

North Korea has repeatedly threatened to target Japan, which hosts around 54,000 US military personnel, as well as South Korea and the United States with its missiles.

North Korea responded to the new United Nations sanctions with increased aggression, escalating last Wednesday to a threat to attack waters near the US territory of Guam.

"For this threat of North Korea, at this meeting we agreed to increase the pressure and to strengthen the alliance capability", Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said after talks with senior USA officials in Washington.

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"In the case of North Korea, we can't see everything in real time but the military deduces the locations of North Korean troops, including the leadership during the exercise".

"As you might imagine, we've spent a fair amount of time discussing North Korea".

Former Secretary of Defense William Perry says North Korea knows its army isn't as strong as others and believes a nuclear bomb would level the playing field.

"There is no intent at all to heighten military tension on the Korean peninsula as these drills are held annually and are of a defensive nature", Moon told cabinet ministers.

The annual exercises have taken on greater significance this year due to the rise in tensions around North Korea's rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the US mainland.

The "lax enforcement" of existing sanctions and Pyongyang's "evolving evasion techniques" were undermining the UN goal of getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, according to the report by independent UN. experts who monitor sanctions violations for the UN Security Council.

North Korea claims it has successfully miniaturized a nuclear weapon.

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North Korea has in the past fired missiles and taken other steps in response to US and South Korean exercises.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said North and South Korea and the United States all needed to make more effort to ease tension.

"The government, putting everything on the line, will block war by all means", Moon said.

The United States has about 28,000 troops in South Korea.

"The drill will definitely provoke Pyongyang more, and Pyongyang is expected to make a more radical response", it said in an editorial. South Korean media reports have said the U.S. was considering scrapping a plan to bring in two aircraft carriers to the peninsula.

Perry says North Korea anxious then and worries now that the United States will try to overthrow its government so a nuclear bomb is its best defense.

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