Joint US-South Korean war games amid rising tensions with North Korea
11 March 2019
The failure of the second summit last month between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to reach an agreement highlights the danger of a renewed slide towards confrontation and conflict. While there is as yet no return to Trump’s previous bellicose threats of war, negotiations are clearly stalled, if not unravelling.
The only commitment made at the first summit in Singapore last year was to the “denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”—a deliberately vague pledge that could be interpreted differently by both sides. The US is insisting that North Korea completely dismantle its nuclear arsenal and programs, while Pyongyang is undoubtedly seeking a winding back of the US military presence in South Korea.
Trump, who has invested considerable political capital in the negotiations, is under fire, particularly from the Democrats. Media reports have repeatedly noted the “failure” of North Korea to dismantle its nuclear facilities and its continued accumulation of the fissile nuclear material used to manufacture weapons.
No such deal was reached in Singapore, however. All that was agreed was that North Korea would halt its testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and in return the US would suspend its joint war games with South Korea. Now even these commitments appear to be collapsing.
The US and South Korea announced last week that they would terminate the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military drills held in each northern spring so as to facilitate the diplomatic process. The massive Foal Eagle exercise, involving more than 300,000 troops along with war planes, naval vessels, tanks and artillery, has been a thinly disguised dress…