Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Seoul, South Korea (4E) – In a bid to prove to the world he’s calling the shots on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea’s petulant dictator Kim Jong-un suddenly threatened to cancel his planned nuclear summit with Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12. Kim yesterday also cancelled a meeting with South Korean president Moon Jae-In on a few hours’ notice.
The surprising chain of events once more focused the world’s attention on the mercurial Kim, whose inexplicable tantrums are matched only by Trump. Kim has made his distaste known for the praise Trump is receiving for the lowered level on tensions on the peninsula.
North Korea now blames the ongoing joint U.S.-South Korea “Max Thunder 2018” military exercises, which it sees the drills as a rehearsal for a full-scale invasion of its territory, for the abrupt threat to the upcoming talks.
“The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities,” said state-run news agency KCNA.
The North Koreans also cited Max Thunder 2018 as the reason high-level talks with Seoul scheduled late Wednesday at the border town of Panmunjom were suddenly called-off. This meeting was to have been a follow-up to Kim’s meeting with Moon last month that led to the Panmunjom Declaration, whose complete name is the “Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula.”
The Panmunjom Declaration was adopted by North Korea and South Korea on April 27 during the 2018 inter-Korean Summit. North and South Korea agreed to work together on ending the Korean War; beginning a new era of peace and sharing commitments in ending divisions and confrontation by approaching a new era of national reconciliation, peace and prosperity and improvements to inter-Korean relations. This declaration includes the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. “Denuclearization,” however, means different things to North and South Korea.
Max Thunder is a regular US-South Korea joint military exercise that began in 2009 with the aim of better coordinating the air forces of both countries. This year, Max Thunder will last from May 11 to 25, and will operate mainly at air bases in Osan, outside Seoul, and Kunsan in the southwest.
Some 100 warplanes are involved, including 8 Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, which the U.S. military has deployed to Max Thunder for the first time. Nuclear-capable Boeing B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers will also participate in the drill.
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