With the United States and South Korea set to begin joint military exercises on Monday—and as Trump administration officials attempt to de-escalate tensions after the president threatened to bring "fire and fury" upon North Korea—the regime of Kim Jong-un published an editorial in a state-run newspaper on Sunday calling the planned war games "reckless behavior" that is "driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war."
"Time has proven that coercion doesn't work. There's an urgent need to hit the reset button on U.S.-Korean policy."
—Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK
The editorial added that the military exercises amount to "pouring gasoline on fire," and warned that the U.S. would not be able to "dodge the merciless strike" the regime claims it is prepared to launch.
"The Korean People's Army is keeping a high alert, fully ready to contain the enemies," the editorial continued. "It will take resolute steps the moment even a slight sign of the preventive war is spotted."
"If the U.S. is lost in a fantasy that war on the peninsula is at somebody else's doorstep far away from them across the Pacific, it is far more mistaken than ever," the editorial concluded.
The U.S.-South Korea military exercises are set to last for ten days, and they will consist of 17,500 American troops and 50,000 South Korean troops.
As the Associated Press noted, the drills "hold more potential to provoke than ever," and some are calling on the U.S. and South Korea "to postpone or drastically modify drills to ease the hostility on the Korean Peninsula."
Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been running high of late as the North continues to develop its nuclear capacities and as U.S. President Donald Trump continues to ratchet up tensions by responding erratically. Trump recently suggested that his "fire and fury" remarks were not "tough enough."
As a result, a growing number of lawmakers are calling for Trump to be stripped of the "nuclear football."
"No U.S. President, certainly not Trump, should have sole authority to initiate an unprovoked nuclear war," argued Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
According to a recent CBS News poll, nearly 60 percent of Americans are "uneasy" about Trump's ability to deal reasonably with North Korea, and the same percentage believes that the U.S. should not be threatening Pyongyang with military action.
As Common Dreams has reported, activists and analysts have issued urgent calls for diplomacy in recent weeks as tensions continue to intensify. The failure to pursue diplomatic avenues could result in a "nuclear nightmare," some have warned.
"Time has proven that coercion doesn't work," CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin recently wrote. "There's an urgent need to hit the reset button on U.S.-Korean policy."