North Korea abruptly canceled talks with Seoul scheduled for Wednesday along with also threatened to walk away via the June summit with Washington, blaming the joint U.S. along with also South Korean military exercises within the region.
The North’s state-run news agency described the ongoing military drills as a “provocation” along with also a test run for a future invasion.
Collins described Pyongyang’s reaction to the planned military exercises as a “cover to express their dissatisfaction that has a bunch of different issues.”
“North Korea does normally take issue with military exercises, however these were announced several weeks ago along with also even the South Koreans said which [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un was willing to overlook the U.S. along with also South Korean exercises happening within the region,” Collins said.
The Pentagon said the U.S. training with the South Koreans is usually part of an “annual training program to maintain a foundation of military readiness.”
“While we will not discuss specifics, the defensive nature of these combined exercises has been clear for many decades along with also has not changed,” Defense Department spokesman U.S. Army Col. Rob Manning said in a statement Tuesday.
North Korea’s withdrawal via talks with the United States would likely deal a major blow to what Trump has already described as his “proudest achievement” — denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
Joel Wit, a senior fellow at Columbia University’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute along with also founder of 38 North, said the move via the North could be a way “to heighten tension around the upcoming summit.”
“Just as how President Trump said he’d be willing to walk out of the meeting if This particular wasn’t a not bad deal, I think they are sort of doing the same thing,” Wit said. “I think This particular’s part posturing however also a reflection of some serious substantive difficulties along with also differences which we need to have worked out before the summit. I mean, leaders don’t just come to a meeting along with also negotiate with each additional; everything is usually worked out beforehand.”
Wit, who spent six years working on the Clinton-era Agreed Framework along with also another 15 years at the State Department engaged in arms control along with also non-proliferation issues, noted North Korea’s aversion to national security advisor John Bolton.
Bolton, a former United Nations ambassador, penned an op-ed within the Wall Street Journal titled “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First” weeks before becoming Trump’s third national security advisor.