North Korea threatens “merciless strike” to defend itself from annual joint military drills

As the United States and South Korea prepare for over a week of joint military drills, North Korea, which sees the drills as practice for an invasion, has threatened a “merciless strike” to defend itself from the “reckless behavior” of the U.S. and South Korea, according to a report from CNN.

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CNN cited an editorial printed in North Korean government newspaper Rodong Sinmun. Guam, Hawaii and the United States mainland were all mentioned as potential targets.

The annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises, the modern drills that continue today, started in 1976. While North Korea has always seen them as provocative, the drills have taken on new meaning after the escalation in recent weeks of what North Korea has called “reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.”

In late July, North Korea tested intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States mainland. Last week, the country announced plans to launch missiles at Guam, a United States territory and the location of Andersen Air Force Base, a vital Pacific air installation.
Andersen is the home of some of the United States Air Force’s B1 bombers, which are capable of delivering payloads to the Korean peninsula.
A Department of Defense press release announcing the commencement of the annual drills says 17,500 United States service members will participate in the 10 days of drills.
President Donald Trump has pledged to meet any North Korean aggression with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

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