Seoul, Apr 18 (EFE).- South Korea and the United States began their annual joint spring military drills Monday amid escalating tensions in the peninsula due to repeated missile launches by North Korea, which also seems to be preparing for a nuclear test.
“(South Korea) and the US have decided to conduct the combined command post training in the first half of 2022 for 9 days from April 18th,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
“This exercise is a defensive command post training using computer simulation” and will not involve any training maneuvers by troops, they added.
The training starts a day after Pyongyang announced it had tested a new type of tactical weapon designed to enhance “the efficiency in the operation of tactical nukes.”
The test was a record 13th by North Korea this year, including an intercontinental ballistic missile launch in mid-March, its first in nearly five years.
In apparent response to that test, Washington decided, for the first time in five years, to deploy one of its aircraft carriers to conduct maneuvers in the vicinity of the peninsula.
North Korea is expected to commemorate the founding anniversary of its army on Apr. 25 with a military parade in which it could unveil new weapons as satellites continue to detect activity indicating that Pyongyang is preparing for its first nuclear test in about four years.
Some analysts believe the CCPT exercise starting Monday could also involve the deployment of assets on the ground in a show of military muscle.
Pyongyang has long criticized these exercises, which the chiefs of staff said seek to “improve the joint operational capability” of South Korea and the US in the event of war, as a rehearsal for invading its territory.
Amid a similar scenario to tensions reached in 2017, when Pyongyang and Washington threatened each other with armed attacks, the US special representative for North Korea, Sung Kim, arrived Monday in Seoul on a five-day trip.
Kim will meet South Korean authorities to analyze the situation at a time when North Korea remains completely isolated from the outside world due to the coronavirus pandemic and shows no willingness to resume talks stalled since 2019. EFE