US to resume military drills on Korean Peninsula

The United States declared on Tuesday that it would end its suspension of military drills on the Korean Peninsula.

Washington had offered to suspend "selected" military exercises following US President Donald Trump's historic Singapore summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un in June. However, subsequent denuclearization talks have failed to produce any concrete peace measures.

'War games' on the Korean Peninsula

  • American and South Korean military forces have for years been rehearsing joint military exercises in case the conflict should escalate on the peninsula.
  • The exercises were stepped up last year as North Korea carried out a series of nuclear missile tests.
  • Joint US-South Korean drills include everything from beach landings to "decapitation" strikes on regime officials, including Kim.
  • The last large-scale exercise, known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian, was slated for this month before it was suspended. Some 17,000 personnel were due to take part

US runs out of 'good faith'

US Secretary of State James Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon that the US has "no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises," adding that the suspension was made as a measure of "good faith" by Trump following the Singapore summit.

Asked whether the resumption of military drills in the region could be viewed by Pyongyang as provocative, Mattis said: "Even answering a question in that manner could influence the negotiations. Let's let the negotiations, let the diplomats go forward. We all know the gravity of the issues we are dealing with."

It remains unclear when such drills are scheduled to resume.

Read more: Donald Trump cancels Mike Pompeo's North Korea trip, citing lack of progress

Why are denuclearization talks failing?

North Korean officials first voiced their frustrations after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's stern warning to Russia and China against violating international sanctions against Pyongyang. Last week, Trump scrapped Pompeo's planned visit to the North, reportedly over what was deemed to be a belligerent letter from Pyongyang's vice chairman, Kim Yong Chol.

US U-turn on 'provocative war games'

Washington's offer to suspend further military drills was welcomed by many as the US and North Korea appeared to be headed towards a truce following the June summit. However, Trump's description of the military exercises as "war games" and as "provocative" raised eyebrows in security circles. The president had yet to comment on Mattis' announcement.

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dm/kms (AFP, dpa)