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North Korea Slams Joint Military Drills by South Korea, Japan, and U.S., Labels Alliance as ‘Asian NATO’

North Korea, US, South Korea, joint military drills
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un chairs a key meeting of the country's ruling party in Pyongyang, North Korea, June 28, 2024 in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korea has sharply criticized the recent joint military exercises conducted by South Korea, Japan, and the United States, referring to the alliance as the “Asian version of NATO.” The large-scale “Freedom Edge” drills, which began on Thursday, involved navy destroyers, fighter jets, and the nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. These exercises aim to enhance defenses against regional threats such as missiles, submarines, and air attacks.

North Korea vows aggressive reaction to ‘Freedom Edge’ drills

The “Freedom Edge” drills were planned during last year’s Camp David summit to boost military cooperation amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula due to North Korea’s weapons testing. In response, North Korea’s foreign ministry issued a statement, vowing an aggressive and overwhelming reaction to what it sees as a growing military bloc led by the U.S. and its allies.

North Korea also criticized Washington’s efforts to link South Korea and Japan to NATO. The ministry highlighted South Korea’s potential arms supply to Ukraine as part of this strategy. South Korea is reviewing this possibility in protest against a recent mutual defense pact between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kim Jong Un chairs key meeting

North Korea’s ruling party, led by Kim Jong Un, recently held a key meeting to address economic challenges and set priorities for the second half of the year. The meeting also focused on “deviations” hampering economic development, according to state media.

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North Korea continues to condemn U.S.-South Korea joint drills, viewing them as rehearsals for invasion and proof of hostile policies by Washington and Seoul. Last year, the three countries conducted joint naval missile defense and anti-submarine exercises to improve their response to North Korean threats.

Pyongyang’s stance underscores the volatile dynamics in the region, as the U.S. and its allies seek to strengthen their military cooperation to counter North Korean aggression. The “Freedom Edge” drills highlight the ongoing tensions and the strategic maneuvers by all parties involved.

With inputs from Reuters