Not content with the nuclear bluster of the last few weeks, North Korea is warning the United States about “merciless strikes” should the US and South Korea go ahead with military drills planned for this week. North Korea’s warning appeared Sunday in Rodong Sinmun, the government’s official newspaper, CNN reports. The paper called the Ulchi Freedom Guardian military drills, which are scheduled to begin Monday, “reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.” Pyongyang reiterated that it has the capability to attack Guam, Hawaii, and the US mainland with nuclear strikes.
The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills are an annual joint military exercise between the US and South Korea to prepare for war with North Korea. This year’s exercise will go on from Aug. 21 to Aug. 31 and feature computer simulations. About 17,500 US troops will take part. That number is down from 25,000 last year, Reuters reports. Defense Secretary James Mattis says that reduction doesn’t have anything to do with mounting tensions with Pyongyang but rather the strategic demands of this year’s exercises. Both Russia and China have advised the US and South Korea to forgo the drills this year.