K1A1 tank disembarks a US Navy LCAC / Image: U.S. Air force

The US and South Korea have wrapped up joint military drills that took place amid high tensions with North Korea.

The two month operation called “Foal Eagle”, held annually, angered North Korea. It made threats after the U.S. flew nuclear capable B-52 bombers over South Korea and then stepped up its threats when the U.S. deployed nuclear capable B-2 stealth bombers and F-22 multi-role fighters. The Rodong Sinmun newspaper described these drills as “attack rehearsals” and said that the US was driving the Korean peninsula toward nuclear war. The US, however, described the military drills “designed to improve the alliance’s readiness to defend the Republic of Korea”.

The North went as far as threatening the U.S. with nuclear attack and published articles of its deployment of ballistic missiles on its Eastern coast on state controlled news websites. It went as far as publishing a picture of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, in what could be called “war rooms”, with maps depicting missiles routes towards US territories.

The Obama administration responded strongly in a statement saying, “the US would take all necessary steps to protect America and its allies”, in a joint statement with UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon.

The US also made a somewhat historical deal with China, with China saying they would work with the United States on “de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

Foal Eagle

The joint military operation that angered North Korea involved 10,000 US troops and 200,000+ South Korean troops. The name of the operation, “Foal Eagle”, has been in use from 1997 to 2013, with the military drills taking place every year.

Kim Min-seok, the defense minister,  told reporters, “The drill is over but the South Korean and US militaries will continue to watch out for potential provocations by the North, including a missile launch”.

He added that the military drills saw a “great outcome” and stated that the exercise was led by the South Korean military, meaning that it was an opportunity to test the army’s capability.

Economical implications

Pyongyang has also been angered over the UN tightening its sanctions over the nuclear tests that occurred on the 12th of February.

On the 9th April – North Korea announced that it had pulled 53,000 North Korean workers out of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a jointly-run complex, where South Korean companies are based. The complex is said to generate $100 million US dollars for North Korea’s economy, every year.

Following this, South Korea announced that it would also withdraw all the 7 remaining workers in North Korea, after North Korea had rejected all offers involving the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

The North has also threatened to restart a de-activated nuclear plant and vowed to restart development of its nuclear weapons arsenal.