North Korea warns of ‘uncontrollable phase’ as air drill extended
KOREAN PENINSULA, SOUTH KOREA - JULY 08: In this handout photo released by the South Korean Defense Ministry, A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber (top) fly with South Korean jets over the Korean Peninsula during a South Korea-U.S. joint live fire drill on July 8, 2017 in Korean Peninsula, South Korea. The U.S. said that it will use military force if needed to stop North Korea's nuclear missile program after North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday into Japanese waters. The latest launch have drawn strong criticism from the U.S. as experts believe the ICBM has the range to reach the U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii and perhaps the U.S. Pacific Northwest. (Photo by South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images)

North Korea warns of ‘uncontrollable phase’ as air drill extendeds

North Korea has warned military allies South Korea and the United States that their decision to extend the “Vigilant Storm” joint-military air drills would push tension to “an uncontrollable phase”, South Korean media reported.

Pyongyang denounced as “very dangerous” the decision by Washington and Seoul on Thursday to extend their air drills in response to North Korea’s launch of ballistic missiles, including a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), earlier in the day.

Pak Jong-chon, secretary of the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, made the warning in a statement carried in State-controlled media, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

“It was reported that the US and South Korea decided to extend the combined air drill Vigilant Storm,” the party secretary said in the statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

“It is a very dangerous and false choice,” he said, according to Yonhap. “The irresponsible decision of the US and South Korea is shoving the present situation, caused by provocative military acts of the allied forces, to an uncontrollable phase,” he added.

The Vigilant Storm drills – which began on Monday and were scheduled to end on Friday – involve some 240 fighter jets and other military aircraft conducting about 1,600 joint missions. The air drills followed days after the South Korean military wrapped up the 12-day Hoguk 22 field exercises, in which an undisclosed number of US troops had participated.

In a statement earlier in the day, the South Korean military said the US had agreed to extend Vigilant Storm owing to North Korea’s “recent provocations”.

Chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Kim Seung-kyum and the head of US Forces Korea Paul LaCamera also held a virtual meeting and reaffirmed their commitment to “a stronger combined defence posture”, according to the statement.

North Korea has long condemned joint military drills between the US and South Korea as a rehearsal for invasion and had warned of “powerful follow-up measures” should the air warfare exercises go ahead this week.

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