US, South Korea War Games Start Monday; Pyongyang Warns of 'Catastrophe'

South Korean soldier watches the north side at the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju South Korea. The U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessments of the size of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal have a wide gap between high

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that its neighbor is crossing the red line with these tests.

The Aug.21 to Aug.31 exercises involve computer simulations created to prepare for the unthinkable: war with nuclear-capable North Korea. USA and Korean marines participated in the exercise along with soldiers from Australia and New Zealand under the United Nations command.

The US military describes the software behind the drills as "state-of-the-art wargaming computer simulations". They stressed that the exercises would "further drive the situation on the Korean Peninsula into a catastrophe".

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That focus on the North Korean leadership is what particularly infuriates Pyongyang, experts say.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency also quoted Kim on Monday warning Washington about the upcoming drills.

"We will follow to the ends of the earth those who dare try to harm our core". However, in the event that North Korea and the US conducted secret negotiations to reduce the scale of the UFG following North Korea's recent threats of missile strikes around Guam, it seems possible that the scale of the joint military exercise has decreased.

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Donald Trump warned North Korea last week that the country would face "fired and fury" if it continued to threaten the United States.

The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill is a computer simulated defencive exercise created to enhance readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula, the Pentagon said.

Tensions escalated in July after Pyongyang conducted two intercontinental ballistic (ICBM) missile tests and claimed the projectiles are capable of reaching the USA mainland and carrying a nuclear weapon, an assessment some regional and Western analysts concur with.

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The North later said it was holding off firing towards Guam, while it waited to see what the United States would do next.

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