In a flurry of statements on Saturday (Oct. 21), North Korea said it had written to the head of the United Nations Security Council, renewing its appeal for the US and South Korea to back off their joint military drills.
North Korea’s weekend communiqués came after the US and South Korea completed four days of joint naval exercises, and just a few weeksbefore Donald Trump is set to make his first visit to Seoul since entering office. The US military described the naval drills, a simulation of an evacuation of noncombatant Americans, as a “routinely scheduled” exercise.
“No other country in the world than the DPRK has… witnessed on its door such nuclear war exercises, which are the most vicious and ferocious in their scale, style, aim and essence,” said a report on state-run news agency KCNA of the letter, which was sent by North Korea’s permanent representative to the UN Security Council president (presently France). “The UN Security Council, in conformity with its mandate, should accept our request for ensuring peace and security of the Korean peninsula, and thus eliminate the root cause of aggravated tension and war.”
Joint military drills by the US and South Korea date back decades, and North Korea continually cites them as a key reason for its military expansion. The two countries have engaged in multiple joint maneuvers and training exercises in recent months, including a major annual joint exercises held in August, the same month North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile and its most powerful bomb yet. The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, and 40 warships and submarines from the two nations, took part in the drill, though fewer US troops participated in this year’s annual exercise than last year.
To underscore North Korea’s message, KCNA also did a roundup of editorials on the subject from local newspapers also under state control.
“The U.S. finally kicked off the ‘high-intensity joint drill’ against the DPRK in the waters off the Korean peninsula, together with the south Korean puppet forces,” said an editorial in Rodong Sinmun. “When the crow flies, her tail follows. The warmongers’ saber-rattling being staged for nearly one year goes to clearly prove that they are working hard to ignite a war for aggression at any cost on the peninsula.”
On countries backing US efforts to pressure Pyongyang with sanctions, KCNA said that American “blackmail diplomacy can never work on sensible countries though it may work on a few riff-raffs who are afraid of the might of the boss of the international gangsters or eager for a few dollars.”