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N. Korea warns joint S. Korea-U.S. military drill will fuel tensions

All Headlines 10:03 July 31, 2013

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korea warned Wednesday that a joint South Korea-U.S. military drill scheduled for mid-August will once again fuel tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise, which aims to improve the defensive posture of the two allies against potential attacks by the North, is slated to take place in South Korea next month.

The UFG is one of two major joint military drills South Korea and the United States have held annually since the 1970s. The North has routinely denounced the drill as a preparation for war.

"South Korea and the United States plan to conduct a military exercise next month with the United Nations Command getting involved," said an article carried by the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the North Korean Workers' Party. "If the drill takes place, conditions in the region will become unpredictable and escalate to the brink of war."

The warning comes after the communist country ratcheted up tensions to an all-time high in decades as it detonated its third nuclear device in February and threatened nuclear attacks against South Korea and the United States.

The official paper blamed the United Nations Command (UNC) for spiking up tensions, claiming it must be disbanded to reduce tensions.

The UNC is the unified command structure for the U.S.-led multinational forces that supported South Korea in its fight against the invading North Korean military in the 1950-53 Korean conflict.

The Rodong Sinmun said the command is an unlawful and phantom organization that needs to be disbanded. "Pyongyang has asked for the disbandment of the UNC on the 60th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement being signed."

Citing another annual U.S.-involved South Korean military drills in March, North Korea in April pulled its workers from, and thereby suspended operations at, an inter-Korean joint complex in its border city Kaesong.

The two Koreas have tried to revive the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a major symbol of inter-Korean rapprochement, by holding six rounds of talks in July, but failed to agree on preconditions for resumption.


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