May 13, 2019 13:08
North Korea's state-run media condemned South Korean joint military drills with the U.S. and even claimed the South's individual military exercises are a "challenge against the yearning by the Korean people for peace." They demanded Seoul "completely halt" the import of strategic and conventional weapons by the U.S. military. The comments came only days after it launched what were likely to be Iskander-class missiles with a complex trajectory that can shift direction during descent, making it impossible for existing anti-missile systems to intercept. Military experts said they are aimed directly at South Korea.
The joint military maneuvers were aimed at boosting readiness to defend the country against a possible North Korean attack. Large-scale joint military drills with the U.S. have already either been halted or drastically downsized following the U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore in 2018, while no drills have taken place focusing on retaliatory maneuvers. One former U.S. military commander voiced "concern" over the measures. Yet a spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry made a fine distinction, referring to the joint military drills as "war games" but his own country's missile provocations as "self-defense drills."
North Korea's state propaganda also criticized South Korea's intention to offer food aid as "empty rhetoric and boastful behavior" and called on the South to live up to its end of inter-Korean agreements to pursue joint economic projects. In other words, North Korea is demanding that South Korea take charge of easing U.S.-led sanctions that were put in place precisely due to the North's nuclear and missile provocations.
North Korea has begged international aid agencies for 1.4 million tons of food aid and allowed World Food Programme inspectors to visit. The state-run Rodong Sinmun daily said "rice is more precious than gold" and even urged North Koreans to raise rabbits and other herbivores for meat. That is how desperate they are for food. But the regime is scoffing at South Korea's kind offer of food aid, because it knows the South will send aid without any conditions anyway. That takes some nerve.
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