Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned North Korea that US forces are ready to “fight tonight” after Pyongyang denounced Washington and Seoul’s decision to resume military exercises. The US and South Korea are resuming military drills after pausing them for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our force remains ready to fight tonight, and we continue to make progress toward the eventual transition of wartime Operational Control to a [Republic of Korea]-commanded, future Combined Forces Command,” Austin said from Seoul on Thursday.
Austin also said the US remains committed to the “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, a demand that is a non-starter for negotiations with Pyongyang. A more realistic approach from the Biden administration would be an offer to ease sanctions in exchange for a freeze in North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
Also on Thursday, a North Korean official said the US would have to drop its “hostile policies” to restart nuclear talks. “We have already declared our stand that no DPRK-US contact and dialogue of any kind can be possible unless the US rolls back its hostile policy towards the DPRK,” said Choe Son-hui, North Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs.