The annual two-week “Ulchi Freedom” exercise, which kicks off Monday, involves tens of thousands of troops in what is a largely computer-simulated rehearsal for a North Korean invasion.
It is one of a number of annual joint drills that Washington and Seoul insist are purely defensive in nature, but which Pyongyang condemns as provocative rehearsals for a full-scale attack on the nuclear-armed North.
This year’s Ulchi Freedom comes at a time of particularly high tensions, following a recent landmine attack on a South Korean border patrol that Seoul blamed on North Korea.
The North’s foreign ministry insisted that the drill should be called off immediately and warned Washington it would be responsible for “all the consequences” if it went ahead.
Pyongyang will take “all necessary measures” in the face of US “nuclear provocations,” a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the North’s official KCNA news agency.