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(4th LD) N. Korea bristles at S. Korea-U.S. military exercise, warns it could seek 'new road'

All News 20:54 August 06, 2019

(ATTN: TRIMS; RECASTS paras 9-10; ADDS new remarks in 11th para)
By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea bristled Tuesday at joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, calling the maneuvers a violation of a series of peace agreements and warning it could seek a "new road" if such hostile moves continue.

A spokesperson for North Korea's foreign ministry made the remarks in a statement issued shortly after the North fired two projectiles believed to be short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea, the fourth such launch in less than two weeks.

"Although the U.S. and South Korean authorities are playing all sorts of tricks to justify the joint military exercise, its aggressive nature can neither be covered up nor whitewashed in any manner," it said, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The statement came a day after the allies launched their combined military drill as scheduled, despite the North's strong complaint against the maneuvers with a series of missile launches. The North has long condemned the exercise as a rehearsal for invasion.

Calling the exercise a "violation" of a series of agreements Seoul and Washington signed with Pyongyang, the statement said the North will make them "pay heavy price" if they ignore its repeated warnings.

"The U.S. and South Korean authorities remain outwardly talkative about dialogue. But when they sit back, they sharpen a sword to do us harm," it said. "If this is what they call 'creative approach' and 'imaginative power beyond common sense,' we will be compelled to seek a new road as we have already indicated."

Also slamming Seoul and Washington over the introduction of weapons such as stealth fighters to South Korea, it said such a move shows that the two "do not have political will at all to implement the joint statements," where they committed to improving the U.S.-North Korea and inter-Korean relations.

"We remain unchanged in our stand to resolve the issues through dialogue. But the dynamics of dialogue will be more invisible as long as the hostile military moves continue," it said.

Ju Yong-chol, a North Korean diplomat in Geneva, accused the United States of inciting military tensions with the joint drills, saying the North would have to "reconsider the major steps (it has) taken so far," according to Reuters. Ju made the remarks at the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

"What is more serious is that the United States is inciting military tension hostile to the DPRK by deploying a large amount of latest offensive military hardware in South Korea in disregard of its commitment to suspend joint military exercises made at summit level," he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

This compelled North Korea to "develop, test and deploy the powerful physical means essential for (its) national defence", he added.

DPRK is the abbreviation of the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

On Friday, North Korea fired two short-range projectiles into the East Sea, just two days after it launched two short-range ballistic missiles, according to the JCS. On July 25, Pyongyang also fired two rounds of a new type of ballistic missile, resuming its weapons testing after 77 days.

An official of South Korea's unification ministry said the North appears to be trying to boost its bargaining power ahead of the resumption of its denuclearization negotiations with the U.S. Their working-level talks had been expected to resume in mid-July, but they have not taken place yet.

"North Korea's recent series of military moves are seen as an attempt to boost internal unity while securing an upper hand in the upcoming political situation and boosting its bargaining power," the official said.

Despite the launches, U.S. seemed to remain upbeat about the prospects for talks with the North until last week, with U.S. President Donald Trump saying Friday that the tests do not violate any agreement between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"South and North Korea as well as the U.S. are all trying to keep the situation under control," the official said.

This still from footage aired by North Korea's Korean Central Television on July 26, 2019, shows a short-range missile being fired from a transporter erector launcher on Hodo Peninsula near the North's eastern coastal town of Wonsan the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

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