SEOUL – North Korea accused the United States on Monday of pressing to resume annual joint military drills with South Korea as soon as the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games end and hampering the improved relations achieved in the past few weeks between Pyongyang and Seoul.
Seoul and Washington had postponed their annual spring military drills, which are normally held between March and April and which Pyongyang considers a rehearsal to invade its territory, so that they did not coincide with PyeongChang 2018.
According to the North Korean daily Rodong on Monday, the US is aiming at ending a thaw in inter-Korean relations immediately after the Olympic flame goes out and is agitating to resume its military drills with Seoul right after the Games close.
After years of very poor relations, the two Koreas reached some historic agreements in January to facilitate the North’s participation in the Winter Games and the visit of a high-level North Korean delegation, marking the first trip of a member of the Kim dynasty – Kim Yo-jong, sister of leader Kim Jong-un – to South Korea.
Seoul believes this rapprochement could lead Washington and Pyongyang to the negotiating table, although the administration of US President Donald Trump has been skeptical and insisted that the North Korean regime should show its intention to denuclearize the country.
The risk of tension rising on the Korean peninsula is increasing, as strategic military assets and huge numbers of US troops are approaching the peninsula and its adjacent areas, Rodong added.
Last year, in response to Pyongyang’s repeated weapons tests, Seoul and Washington agreed to deploy a greater number of US strategic assets to the Korean peninsula.
However, North Korea took advantage of its high-level delegation’s visit to invite South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang and participate in the first inter-Korean summit of leaders in more than 10 years.
Although Moon expressed his willingness to visit the North, he insisted that both Koreas must create the right conditions to make the meeting a reality.
The South Korean president also stressed his government’s commitment to the Seoul-Washington alliance, and said that he would support isolation and sanctions for Pyongyang if it conducts a weapons test again.