North Korea warns joint US-South Korea military drill risks nuclear war

Pyongyang

The fighter planes will join the allies' annual airborne exercise named Vigilant Ace to be held from December 4-8, according to the South Korean Air Force.

South Korea and the United States launched large-scale joint aerial drills on Monday, officials said, a week after North Korea said it had tested its most advanced missile as part of a weapons programme that has raised global tensions.

The South Korean Air Force will dispatch F-15K, KF-16 and F-5 fighter jets and other planes for the exercises with about 230 aircraft at eight US and South Korean military installations being mobilized. The U.S. Air Force spokesman could not confirm the reports.

The drills come a week after North Korea said it had tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile ever in defiance of worldwide sanctions and condemnation.

The US deployed over two dozen stealth fighter jets, including F-22s and F-35s, and two strategic B-1B bombers in the manoeuvers, which will conclude on Saturday.

The training, held each year in late fall, is not in response to any incident or provocation, the Seventh Air Force said in a statement.

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South Korea is a key United States ally in the region and relies on USA military assistance for security against the North. Troops from the two countries routinely train together, each time prompting outbursts from Pyongyang. On the South Korean side, they include the F-15K, KF-16, and F-15 fighters; the domestically produced FA-50 light combat aircraft; the domestically produced KA-1 tactical control aircraft; and the E-737 airborne control aircraft.

The warning comes a day after North Korea's foreign ministry warned that the U.S. government is "begging" for a nuclear war.

In addition to American diplomats and other embassy workers, about 28,500 US troops operate in South Korea, and many come to their posts with their families, who often live on huge, well-guarded military bases.

North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country called Trump "insane" on Sunday and said the drill would "push the already acute situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war".

North Korea has been eligible for even harsher sanctions since US President Donald Trump declared it a designated state sponsor of terrorism last month, and White House National Security Advisor H.R McMaster has admitted the newspaper editorial's warning of war was credible.

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