On Sunday North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Su Yong had told the Associated Press his country was willing to halt its nuclear tests if the U.S. suspended its annual joint military exercises with South Korea. “If we continue on this path of confrontation, this will lead to very catastrophic results, not only for the two countries but for the whole entire world as well,” he said. “It is really crucial for the United States government to withdraw its hostile policy against the DPRK and as an expression of this stop the military exercises, war exercises, in the Korean Peninsula. Then we will respond likewise.”
President Barack Obama responded the U.S. won’t back down from strengthening its military alliances and defenses against North Korea until the country “shows seriousness” toward eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula.
The U.S. and South Korea intensified their military exercises, which are expected to continue through the month. Approximately 300,000 South Korea troops and 17,000 U.S. troops are participating in the drills, according to the joint U.S. and South Korean military command.