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Talk of 'Preventive War' Rises in White House Over North Korea

Talk of 'Preventive War' Rises in White House Over North Korea

South Korean and USA forces began computer-simulated military exercises earlier on Monday amid tension over North Korea's weapons programs, with the North saying it was watching the United States' every move.

Thousands of troops participate in largely computer simulated Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills despite warnings from North. These include 50,000 South Korean soldiers and almost 17,500 USA soldiers.

Seoul and Washington began annual war games on Monday, with South Korean President Moon Jae-In warning the nuclear-armed North not to use them as an excuse to perpetuate the "vicious cycle" of tensions.

William McKinney, a retired Army colonel who spent more than 40 years involved in U.S. -Korea military relations and planning, said the U.S. should consider suspending larger exercises - provided it gets something in return.

North Korea has previously claimed it has nuclear missiles capable of smashing the United States mainland.

Moon said North Korea's development of nuclear weapons technology was "nearing" a red line, which he described as "completing an ICBM and weaponizing it with a nuclear head". On the contrary, Pinkston believes the more prepared US and South Korean troops are the lower will be the threat from North Korea.

In an editorial published on Sunday the official North Korean newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, criticised the joint military exercise as an "expression of enmity", adding that no one can guarantee "that the exercise won't lead to hostilities".

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The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills that began Monday are largely computer-simulated war games and will run through August 31.

North Korea's back-track on Guam, after a tense war of words with Washington about its nuclear and missile tests, was conditional.

According to the South Korean newspaper Joongang Ilbo, the following scenario, among others, is being tested during the exercise: In a potential military operation, how to carry out a preventive strike against the North Korean leadership.

"It's to prepare if something big were to occur and we needed to protect ROK", said Michelle Thomas, a U.S. military spokeswoman, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.

"There's a lot we can do (through diplomacy) to bring the tension down without undermining the security of South Korea or USA", said Robert S. Ross, a Boston College political science professor. In exchange for their suspension, China has suggested that North Korea should freeze its nuclear program.

Kim would "watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees", a North Korean statement said last week.

The United Nations in a unanimous vote recently adopted new sanctions against North Korea.

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