U.S., SOKOR TO HOLD COMPUTER-SIMULATED MILITARY DRILLS
The US and South Korea will hold their regular joint military drills from Monday, March 8, 2021, as scheduled, but they will be limited mainly to computer simulations because of concerns about the pandemic and fears the exercises could provoke North Korea, Jeong Ho-Lee reported for Bloomberg News.
The “strictly defensive” nine-day drill will be a command-post exercise, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement on Sunday. The decision was made to scale down after “comprehensive consideration” of the coronavirus situation and diplomatic efforts to achieve denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula, according to the statement.
Washington and Seoul have eased up on joint drills in a bid to get North Korea back to the negotiating table. Pyongyang has labeled the exercises an “invasion rehearsal.”
The high-stakes nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea have been stalled for more than two years ago, after a summit between the two sides in Hanoi in 2019 ended abruptly.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said at a press conference in January that Seoul may discuss the exercises with Pyongyang if necessary, to revive talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The latest joint drills will involve preparation for “full operational capability” tests under a South Korean general, needed for the transfer of wartime operational control from the U.S. to South Korea, according to the statement. Moon has vowed to complete the transfer before his single term ends next year.