South Korea, U.S. kick off annual military drillsUpdated: 2014-08-18 22:03:17 KST
South Korea and the United States kicked off their annual military exercise on Monday.
The computer simulation aided joint Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, which run through next Friday, mobilizes roughly 50-thousand South Korean and 30-thousand U.S. troops.
The main purpose of the exercise is to maintain security on the Korean peninsula, while upholding joint defense capabilities between the two allies.
This year, the exercise will involve the testing of a new "tailored" strategy -- which is aimed at deterring North Korea's nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction.
The strategy -- drawn up at a security consultative meeting last year -- stipulates diplomatic and military responses at different levels of "threats" posed by Pyongyang during times of peace or war.
And, like years gone by, the military exercise comes amid threats from the North.
Pyongyang on Monday condemned the drills as a "declaration of nuclear war."
North Korea's Rodong Shinmun said the exercises violate peace on the peninsula, calling it a provocative act that hurts inter-Korean relations.
The newspaper added that Seoul and Washington will be to blame for "unpredictable situations" on the Korean peninsula.
Pyongyang also warned "merciless, pre-emptive" attacks on Seoul during the weekend.
The North has long denounced the exercise as a rehearsal for war against Pyongyang, while Seoul insists the drills are defensive in nature.
South Korea's military said the exercise will go forward as planned amid strengthened surveillance and security against the North, adding that Seoul will respond firmly and without hesitation if the North engages in any form of provocation.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.