SEOUL: North Korea on Monday condemned a US-South Korean military exercise this week as an attempt to halt progress made on nuclear disarmament talks regarding the communist nation.
Rodong Sinmun, the North’s powerful ruling communist party newspaper, described the week-long US-South Korean war games which began on Sunday as “a criminal artifice to ... check the progress of the six-party talks and the implementation of the agreed articles.”
The paper fell short of following on Sunday’s warning by Pyongyang’s state newspaper Minju Joson that the drills “may entail such serious consequences as ... scuttling the six-party talks” on North Korea.
Last week’s round of six-party talks in Beijing ended abruptly when Pyongyang refused to negotiate further until it received $25 million of its funds frozen in a Macau bank—due to accusations of money laundering—that the US had agreed to release.
The US-South Korean war games, called RSOI (Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration) and Foal Eagle, began across South Korea Sunday. The allies say the exercise is purely defensive. But the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said in a separate dispatch late on Monday the drills could spark a war. “Due to this reckless play with fire, the situation on the peninsula remains so tense that a war may break out there any moment,” the KCNA said.