July 22, 2010
North Korea has warned against US plans to hold a joint naval exercise with South Korea in the Sea of Japan, saying the military drill poses a threat to regional security.
“Such movements pose a great threat not only to the peace and security of the Korean peninsula but also to global peace and security,” Ri Tong-il, a spokesman for Pyongyang’s delegation at a regional security forum in Hanoi, told reporters on Thursday.
“If (the US and South Korea) are really interested in the denuclearization of the peninsula, they should take the lead in helping establish the settings (for restarting six-party talks) before they resume military drills,” Reuters quoted Ri as saying.
The remarks come as the US and South Korea plan to hold a major four-day military exercise, dubbed the Invincible Spirit, in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).
Earlier on Tuesday, defense chiefs in the US and South Korea issued a joint statement, saying that “These defensive, combined exercises are designed to send a clear message to North Korea.”
The first maneuver, which would be staged on Sunday, will involve the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington and 20 other ships and submarines, as well as 100 aircraft and 8,000 personnel.
The Beijing government has also expressed opposition to US warships carrying out an exercise in the Yellow Sea between the Chinese coast and the Korean peninsula.
Tensions have intensified on the Korean peninsula since the sinking of a South Korean warship earlier in March.
Seoul has blamed a North Korean torpedo for the shipwreck, which left 46 sailors dead.
The North, however, has rejected the claim as “smear campaign,” insisting that its navy did not torpedo the South Korean ship.
Ri went on to say that the new US sanctions against the North come in violation of a July 9 UN statement, which called for “peaceful measures” against those responsible for the shipwreck.
This article was posted: Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 10:28 am