South Korea begin wargames

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DPRK media outlet Korean Central News Agency warned in a brief statement that the exercises would "further drive the situation on the Korean Peninsula into a catastrophe".

Warning of an "uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war" on the peninsula, it added, "If the United States is lost in a fantasy that war on the peninsula is at somebody else's doorstep far away from them across the Pacific, it is far more mistaken than ever".

SEOUL-A new cycle of escalation on the Korean Peninsula looks set to begin this week when the US and South Korea kick off annual military exercises that have a history of enraging Pyongyang.

The August exercise - called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, or UFG - is a computer based simulation for unplanned events that include military actions but also terror or chemical attacks. It added that the USA should take responsibility for any catastrophic consequences of a military confrontation.

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"The Korean People's Army is keeping a high alert, fully ready to contain the enemies".

Unlike the March exercise, UFG doesn't include live fire drills and happens concurrently with drills by local governments and civil servants to prepare South Korea's civil defenses.

The "lax enforcement" of existing sanctions and Pyongyang's "evolving evasion techniques" were undermining the United Nations goal of getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, Kyodo quoted the report as saying. He, as reported by AFP, also indirectly urged the US - the South's key ally and security guarantor - to resolve the crisis peacefully.

The warning published by the official government newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, comes barely a day ahead of the commencement of the military exercises known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian by US and South Korea on Monday.

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North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) twice in July.

Donald Trump responded by saying North Korea, "Best not make any more threats to the US".

To an extent, the Chinese efforts paid off following North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un's decision to withhold authorization to strike four missile near Guam which is a US territory.

Around 17,500 United States troops will participate in this year's drills - a cutback from last year - according to numbers provided by Seoul's defence ministry.

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North Korea is a useful buffer state for China between it and USA forces based in South Korea, and also across the sea in Japan. On the question of talks with North Korea, the South Korean president said, "I don't think we must rush into it".

"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.

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