U.S. and South Korea to extend military exercises
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - North Korea fired multiple missiles into the sea on Thursday, Nov. 3, including a possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), leading the U.S. and South Korea to extend their military exercises. This follows North Korea’s record breaking barrage of missiles fired the day before.
Relations have long been shaky on the Korean Peninsula, with the Korean War ending with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
“The peninsula has in the past erupted out into these sort of fits of violence or disputes, particularly the maritime domain over where to draw the line between North and South Korea,” explained William Norris, Associate Professor at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. “One of the important things to bear in mind is that the Korean War has never officially ended.”
Norris says North Korea cited its neighbor’s drills with the U.S. as the provocation for its recent behavior. The joint exercises, called “Vigilant Storm,” began on Monday, Oct. 31 and involved 240 aircrafts and thousands of service members from both countries.
Vigilant Storm is “unique for its size and scale, but the fact that we’re doing exercises with South Korea is not new,” explained Norris.
There was a period when former President Donald Trump was in office and his administration was reaching out to the leadership in North Korea. They came to an agreement to temporarily halt some of the exercises with South Korea, but the U.S. has once again reinstated the regular schedule of military exercises.
Norris says there are two main reasons for the drills: “number one, they serve to demonstrate to the region that there is that level of cooperation between the United States and its allies and number two, there’s an operational component to keeping both sides proficient and making sure that we are ready and prepared for any kind of contingencies that may result in the peninsula.”
In its launches on Wednesday, North Korea fired nearly two dozen missiles.
Norris says these actions were “clearly an escalation to those tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” and warned that “if things continue to escalate there very well could be additional dangers that are going to unfold on the peninsula.”
Watch the full interview in the player above.
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