Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned Thursday that American forces are ready to “fight tonight,” in response to North Korea slamming drills resuming between the US and South Korea.
The US and South Korean forces have resumed military drills after pausing the exercises more than a year ago over coronavirus concerns.
“Our force remains ready to ‘fight tonight,’ and we continue to make progress toward the eventual transition of wartime Operational Control to a [Republic of Korea]-commanded, future Combined Forces Command,” Austin said.
“While meeting all the conditions for this transition will take more time, I’m confident that this process will strengthen our alliance,” the Defense Secretary continued.
Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Japan Monday for a four day trip aimed at reiterating America’s commitment to allies in the region.
Washington-led diplomacy efforts focused on denuclearizing North Korea have remained stalled over sanctions disputes. Experts are weighing a potential compromise that would freeze the dictatorship’s nuclear activities in exchange for relaxing sanctions.
“We are committed to the denuclearization of North Korea, reducing the broader threat the DPRK poses to the United States and our allies, and improving the lives of all Koreans, including the people of North Korea who continue to suffer widespread and systematic abuses at the hands of their repressive government,” Austin said at the press conference Thursday.
The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rebuked the Biden administration earlier this week while slamming the war drills, which Pyongyang views as an invasion rehearsal.
“We take this opportunity to warn the new US administration trying hard to give off powder smell in our land,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement to state news agency KCNA. “If it wants to sleep in peace for coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”
Some experts think the Hermit Kingdom will escalate its missile tests as a negotiation tactic. The country’s waning economy has been reeling from recent natural disasters and pandemic-related border restrictions that have impacted trade.
With Post wires
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