Pyongyang may interpret the US-South Korean exercise Ulchi Freedom Shield as a provocation and mobilize its nuclear deterrence force, Russia’s Ambassador to North Korea, Alexander Matsegora, told TASS on Monday.
He drew attention to the fact that in his speech on the occasion of the 69th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War on July 27, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, spoke about Washington’s invariable hostility towards the DPRK and that his country, in order to ensure its security, was “ready to both a dialogue with the United States and to any military clashes with it.”
“There was no nuclear context in that part of his speech,” Matsegora emphasized. “Only in the final section Kim said that he was ready to mobilize the nuclear deterrence force in response to a crisis situation that might arise, if the Americans or South Koreans went ahead with military provocations. The joint military exercise announced by Washington and Seoul, due to begin on August 22, may turn out to be one of such provocations.”
He added that the United States and South Korea were well aware such maneuvers were provocative, “but for some reason this risk does not bother them at all.”
“It turns out that they themselves are pushing the North Koreans towards a diamond-cuts-diamond approach. This is what causes the most serious concern,” Matsegora summed up.
The joint US-South Korean exercise Ulchi Freedom Shield, the Yonhap news agency said citing the South Korean Defense Ministry, will consist of three parts: a crisis management staff exercise, measures to repel a hypothetical offensive and protect the capital city and its environs, and plans for a counteroffensive. The drills are scheduled for August 22 – September 1.