Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has cautioned North Korea that American troops are ready to “fight tonight” after the regime spoke up against military drills being held in South Korea.
The South Korean and U.S. armies have continued their springtime drills in South Korea after pausing the exercises last year due to coronavirus.
Austin talked about the military’s commitment to “denuclearization of the peninsula” and “the importance of keeping military readiness” during his recent press conference.
“Our force remains ready to ‘fight tonight,’ and we keep pushing toward the end goal of giving Operational Control to a Korean-commander,” the defense secretary stated.
He went on: “While reaching all the conditions for this change will require more time, I’m certain this process will strengthen our alliance.”
American-led efforts focusing on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal remains stalled due to disagreements over sanctions. Experts are arguing if the U.S. should agree to a deal that would freeze North Korea’s nuclear actions in return for reducing sanctions.
Earlier this week, the sister of Kim Jong Un threatened the U.S. away from “causing a stink,” while saying the joint drills were nothing but an “invasion rehearsal.”
“We warn the Biden administration attempting to give off powder smell in our country,” Kim Yo Jong said in her comments to the country’s state news agency. “If it wants a good night’s sleep for the next four years, it should not cause a stink in its first step.”
Some analysts predict North Korea might increase animosities with missile tests to help its negotiation stance. North Korea’s economy is hurting because of the pandemic border closure that has significantly lowered its external trade and multiple natural disasters last year.
After Thursday’s discussions, Austin, Blinken and their South Korean allies put out a joint statement that said the North Korean nuclear missile issue is “a priority for us” and reaffirmed a shared drive to address that issue and more.