Seoul and Washington hold joint drills to simulate North Korean attack

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea and the US military on Thursday began their largest-ever joint live-fire exercise simulating a “full-scale attack” by North Korea, South Korea’s defense ministry said.

About 2,500 South Korean and US troops took part in the five-day exercise that began in Pocheon, near the border with North Korea, the ministry said. Several tanks, howitzers and fighter aircraft also took part in the exercise.

“The exercise demonstrated our military’s capability and readiness to resolutely respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats as well as a full-scale attack,” the ministry said in a press release.

Last week, North Korean state media reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has approved final preparations for the launch of the country’s first military spy satellite. The head of state said the satellite was necessary to counter threats from the United States and South Korea.

Analysts believe the satellite will improve North Korea’s surveillance capabilities, allowing it to more accurately hit targets in the event of conflict.

According to the US monitoring group 38 North, recent images taken by commercial satellites show that a new launch pad is being established at the North Korean satellite launch station, and activity there is peaking. A “new level of urgency”, most of the launch preparations can do.

US and South Korean forces have held various training exercises in recent months, including air and sea exercises involving US B-1B bombers, as the number of exercises has been reduced due to diplomatic efforts and COVID-19 restrictions .

North Korea has condemned the drills, saying they prepare for invasion.

(Reporting by Soo-Hyang Choi in Seoul and Daewoong Kim in Pocheon; French version Editing by Victor Goury-Lafont, Blandine Heinault)

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