Washington and Seoul begin major military exercises after Pyongyang launches two missiles

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South Korea and the United States began on Monday their largest joint military exercises in five years, despite threats from North Korea, which announced hours earlier that it had launched two cruise missiles from a submarine. Pyongyang said that the missile launches were aimed at testing “nuclear deterrence in different spaces”, while criticizing the “Freedom Shield” maneuvers between US and South Korean forces, which are scheduled to continue for ten days to counter the growing threats from Pyongyang.

The South Korean army stated that these maneuvers “include war-time training to fend off potential North Korean attacks and to conduct stabilization campaigns in the north.” The Joint Chiefs of Staff in South Korea emphasized that these maneuvers are “defensive and based on a joint operations plan.”

And these types of exercises anger Pyongyang, which considers them a simulation of an invasion of its territory, and regularly threatens to take “overwhelming” action in response. Gu Myung-hyun, a researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, said that “North Korea uses missiles to (condemn) the joint exercises.”

And she added, “It wants to affirm that the reason for its development of missiles is for self-defense purposes.” For its part, the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Monday criticizing the “evil extortion of the Americans regarding human rights,” after Washington announced that it had called for a meeting at the United Nations this week regarding human rights violations in North Korea.

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