Seoul, Aug 22 (EFE).- South Korea and the United States on Monday kicked off the Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) drills, a large-scale military exercise that has not been held in the region for four years and takes place amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) confirmed the start of the drills, which will conclude on Sep. 1 and include field training on a scale not seen in the south of the peninsula since the summer of 2018.
These exercises were first reduced in scale and later canceled in order to improve diplomacy with North Korea during a two-year period of rapprochement between Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington that ended in 2019.
The maneuvers also include a computer-simulation command post exercise and civil defense drills and will take place in two parts: the first consisting of drills to repel a hypothetical North Korean attack and defend the South Korean capital region, and the second focusing on counterattack operations.
The UFS exercises are aimed at reinforcing the preparation of the allies in the face of the North Korean weapons modernization program that started last year.
Under the program, the North has launched more than 20 missiles this year alone and is suspected to have been preparing to carry out its first nuclear test since 2017, according to satellite images.
The start of the exercises also comes three days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, flatly rejected Seoul’s offer of economic assistance if the regime opted for denuclearization.
She described the proposal made by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol as “absurd” and dismissed it as an identical offer presented unsuccessfully by previous conservative Seoul governments. EFE