Planned US-SoKor military drills to take place next month
SEOUL — South Korean and American armed forces are set to hold a scaled-down version of their annual military drills amid protests from North Korea.
The U.S. and South Korea have announced that the 19-2 Dong Maeng military exercise will take place in August.
South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reports that the exercise was first launched in March this year.
Pentagon Spokesman Dave Eastburn said this is a regular exercise that shows U.S.
commitment to their alliance with South Korea, and to the defense of the Korean Peninsula.
During the exercise, the two sides will assess Seoul's initial operational capability.
This is to verify whether South Korea is on track for its plan to retake wartime operational control of combined forces from the U.S. by 2022.
The three requirements for the transfer include: South Korea acquiring key military capabilities to lead their combined forces, securing capabilities to respond early to nuclear and missile threats from North Korea and favorable security circumstances on the Korean Peninsula, according to Yonhap News Agency.
North Korea is wary of the drills as it sees the joint military exercises as a threat to its sovereignty.
According to North Korea News, the country's state-run Korean Central News Agency issued two statements criticizing the upcoming exercise as a violation of an agreement made between the U.S. and North Korea in last year's Singapore summit."
North Korea said this would affect "working-level negotiations" between the U.S. and DPRK.
North Korea also hinted that it may not abandon its nuclear weapons.
In a statement, the country said, "As the U.S. unilaterally does not fulfill its commitments, the reason for us to stick to our promise with the U.S. gradually fades away."