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North Korea threatens to resume nuclear weapons and ICBM tests if US-South Korea military exercises proceed
SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States looks set to break a promise not to hold military exercises with South Korea, putting talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons at risk, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
The United States' pattern of "unilaterally reneging on its commitments" is leading Pyongyang to reconsider its own commitments to discontinue tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the ministry said in a pair of statements released through state news agency KCNA.
President Donald Trump revitalized efforts to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons last month when he arranged a spur-of-the-moment meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the border between the two Koreas.
Trump said they had agreed to resume so-called working-level talks, stalled since their second summit in February collapsed. The negotiations are expected in coming weeks.
But a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman cast doubt on that, saying the United States and South Korea were pressing ahead with exercises called Dong Maeng this summer, which he called a "rehearsal of war".
"We will formulate our decision on the opening of the DPRK-U.S. working-level talks, while keeping watch over the U.S. move hereafter," the spokesman said, using the initials of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The exercises are expected in August.
North Korea has for years denounced military exercises between the United States and South Korea, but in recent months has increased its criticism as talks with Washington and Seoul stalled.
"It is crystal clear that it is an actual drill and a rehearsal of war aimed at militarily occupying our Republic by surprise attack," the North Korean spokesman said in a separate statement, adding that Trump had reaffirmed at last month's meeting with Kim that the exercises would be halted.
Trump, in his first meeting with Kim in Singapore in June last year, said he would stop exercises, after the two leaders agreed to work towards the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and to improve ties.
While the main annual South Korean-U.S. exercises have been stopped, they still hold smaller drills.
"Readiness remains the number one priority for USFK," said Jacqueline Leeker, a spokeswoman for U.S. Forces Korea (USFK). "As a matter of standard operating procedure, and in order to preserve space for diplomacy to work, we do not discuss any planned training or exercises publicly."
She said U.S. and South Korean troops continued to train together, but had adjusted the size, scope, number and timing of exercises in order to "harmonize" training programs with diplomatic efforts.
An official at South Korea's ministry of defense said it did not have immediate comment, but Seoul officials have previously said the drills are defensive in nature.
Since the Singapore summit, North Korea has not tested any nuclear weapons or intercontinental ballistic missiles, though it tested new short-range missiles in May.
The United States' decision to forge ahead with drills less than a month after Trump and Kim last met is "clearly a breach" of the two leaders' agreements made in Singapore last year, and is an "an undisguised pressure" on North Korea, the foreign ministry spokesman said.
"With the U.S. unilaterally reneging on its commitments, we are gradually losing our justifications to follow through on the commitments we made with the U.S. as well," he said.
A North Korean nuclear envoy who steered the talks ahead of the failed February summit is alive, a South Korean lawmaker said on Tuesday, contradicting a South Korean news report that he had been executed.
The White House doctor still under investigation for doling out pills like a ‘candy man’ is now running for Congress
Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician and retired Navy rear admiral who had a short run as the nominee for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2018, now plans to run for a seat in Congress.
University of Phoenix to pay $191 million for lying to troops about its close ties with major companies
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The University of Phoenix, which is owned by Apollo Education Group, has agreed to pay $191 million to settle charges that it falsely advertised close ties with major U.S. companies that could lead to jobs for students, the Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday.
The University of Phoenix will pay $50 million to the FTC to return to consumers and cancel $141 million in student debt.
Some of the advertisements targeted military and Hispanic students, the FTC said.
As UCF research associate Shane Reynolds guides his avatar over a virtual minefield using his iPad, small beeps and whistles reveal the location of the scourge of the modern war zone: Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs. He must take his time to sweep every last inch of the playing field to make sure his character doesn't miss any of the often-deadly bombs.
Despite his slow pace, Reynolds makes a small misstep and with a kaboom! a bomb blows up his player, graphically scattering body parts.
The Navy has posthumously awarded aviator and aircrewman wings to three sailors killed in last week's shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
"The selfless acts of heroism displayed by these young Sailors the morning of Dec. 6 are nothing short of incredible," Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Daniel Dwyer said in a statement.