North Korea warns of 'merciless strike' ahead of US-South Korea drills

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North Korea warns of 'merciless strike' ahead of US-South Korea drills

North Korea's military on Tuesday greeted the start of annual US-South Korean military drills with its standard fiery threats, vowing "merciless retaliation" for exercises Pyongyang claims are an invasion rehearsal.

Citing an unnamed official from the North Korean Foreign Ministry, KCNA said Turnbull's show of support for Washington, coupled with Australia's participation in the military drills, had left the country open to unspecified "counter-measures of justice" by North Korea. During last year's drills, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submarine and put its military on the highest alert. They are created to respond to computer-simulated North Korean attacks. Despite that, Pyongyang has continued developing its nuclear and weapons program.

Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) last month that appeared to bring much of the U.S. within range. The US has also reduced the number of troops from the usual 25,000 to 17,500.

Kim's regime also unveiled a video of its threat to fire missiles near the USA territory of Guam, Yonhap reported.

North Korea's rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland has fuelled a surge in regional tension and UN-led sanctions appear to have failed to bite deeply enough to change its behaviour.

North Korea is especially riled by the prospect of a decapitation strike. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he will "watch a little longer the conduct of the foolish and stupid Yankees".

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

"[Mr Kim] said that if the Yankees persist in their extremely risky, reckless actions on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the latter will make an important decision as it already declared, warning the USA that it should think reasonably and judge properly not to suffer shame that it is hit by the DPRK again".

The exercise is a computerized command-and-control simulation, said a spokeswoman for U.S. Forces in Korea.

Recently, the USA and North Korea have exchanged strong language over possible North Korean missile tests.

"The Trump group's declaration of the reckless nuclear war exercises against the DPRK.is a reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war", Rodong Sinmun said, using the acronym for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the nation's official name. South Korea is contributing about 50,000 service members to the drills, the same as a year ago, but the USA has reduced its head count by 30% to about 17,500. US Secretary of Defense James Mattis made a statement of a similar nature.

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