PYONGYANG – North Korea said Monday that it wants Britain to pull out of upcoming military exercises in South Korea, calling the drills a “hostile act.”
Britain has announced that it will send fighter jets and support planes to Asia, and that it will take part in exercises in South Korea together with South Korean and U.S. forces in early November.
“This is a hostile act, openly joining the U.S. and South Korean forces in moves for a new war against us,” said North Korean Foreign Ministry official Pak Yun Sik. “Britain claims that this military exercise is not targeting us, but the U.S. and South Korea openly say that these military exercises are aimed at launching a strike against our military facilities and our command structure.”
North Korea usually responds to regular South Korea-U.S. military drills with weapons tests and fiery warlike rhetoric. It views the drills as an invasion rehearsal, but Seoul and Washington say the exercises are defensive in nature.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force will conduct its first Japan-based exercise with a foreign nation other than the U.S. this month when Britain sends four fighter jets to Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture. The aircraft arrive on Oct. 21, with joint drills scheduled from Oct. 24 through Nov. 6.
The U.K. unit will later fly on to South Korea to take part in the trilateral drills with U.S. and South Korean pilots.
North Korea has increased its opposition to military exercises in South Korea, and has conducted more than 20 missile launches and two nuclear tests this year.