North Korea slams upcoming US-South military exercises


However, this year fewer USA military personnel are taking part raising speculation Washington may be concerned about a hair-trigger reaction from Pyongyang that could potentially result in a full-blown conflict.

The U.S. also describes them as "defensive in nature", a term North Korean state media has dismissed as a "deceptive mask".

"They should not be seen in any way as a provocative exercise", Ms Payne said.

"It's to prepare if something big were to occur and we needed to protect ROK", said Michelle Thomas, a USA military spokeswoman, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.

It said: "The US should stop at once arrogant provocations against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] and unilateral demands and not provoke it any longer". Pyongyang said the exercises, which it considers as a rehearsal for an actual invasion, will only fuel the fire in the Korean peninsula.

The drill is expected to last ten days, from August 21 to August 31, 2017.

"North Korea has shown it has no regard for the welfare of its own population, no regard for the security and good relations with its neighbours and no regard for global law", he said in a statement to the ABC.

It described North Korea as the "strongest possessor" of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States mainland from anywhere.

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"If the United States is lost in a fantasy that war on the peninsula is at somebody else's doorstep far away from them across the Pacific, it is far more mistaken than ever". About 17,500 US service members will participate, with about 3,000 coming from installations outside South Korea, the officials said.

North Korea responded to the new United Nations sanctions with increased aggression, escalating last Wednesday to a threat to attack waters near the US territory of Guam.

North Korea has warned the exercise is "reckless behaviour driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war", CNN reports.

Both the US and South Korea have said the war games were defensive in nature and crucial to maintaining a deterrent against North Korean aggression.

"It needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand that when their actions jeopardise China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand", the paper read.

Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, told "Fox News Sunday" the president's statement jeopardized America's relationship with China, which is in the best position to calm North Korea's aggression.

North Korea claims it has successfully miniaturized a nuclear weapon.

"If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so".