South Korea and U.S. Begin Joint Military Exercises
(CNN) — A new joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States began Monday amid heightened tension across the region.
The latest military drills involving the two allies are called Key Resolve and follow the Foal Eagle joint exercises that began March 1, which are scheduled to last two months.
More than 3,000 U.S. forces are taking part in Key Resolve, according to United States Forces Korea.
North Korea has called the annual training exercises “an open declaration of a war,” but South Korea says it notified Pyongyang that the drills “are defensive in nature.”
The United Nations Command notified the North Korean military on February 21 of the exercise dates, noting that Key Resolve is an annual joint exercise that is not related to current events on the Korean Peninsula.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed tougher sanctions against North Korea Thursday targeting the secretive nation’s nuclear program, which followed successful missile and nuclear tests.
The exercises also come as North Korea said last week that it planned to scrap the armistice that stopped the Korean War in 1953 and warned it could carry out strikes against the United States and South Korea.
Despite the strong language, analysts say North Korea is years away from having the technology necessary to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile and aim it accurately at a target.
And, analysts say, North Korea is unlikely to seek a direct military conflict with the United States, preferring instead to try to gain traction through threats and the buildup of its military deterrent.