US President Donald Trump ruled out on Wednesday that his administration was planning future military exercises with South Korea, but also warned that he could “instantly” relaunch them and that if he did, they would be “far bigger than ever before.” He also called China out for putting pressure on North Korea, criticizing the Chinese government’s role in the crisis.
The president’s statement came a day after his Defense Secretary James Mattis hinted that the military drills could resume and days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a planned visit to North Korea, citing insufficient progress in denuclearization talks.
DW reports that “Trump had announced the suspension of military drills with South Korea in June, as an overture to Pyongyang, which saw the exercises as preparations for an invasion. But Trump’s statement on Wednesday did not mention any setbacks and hailed his personal relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un as “a very good and warm one.”
At their June summit in Singapore, both leaders agreed broadly to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. But North Korea has yet to prove a willingness to give up its nuclear weapons program unilaterally, as the White House demanded.
US intelligence and defense officials have repeatedly expressed deep doubts that Pyongyang is serious about denuclearization.