When the US and South Korea previously conducted military exercises, in 2017, Kim authorized a nuclear test. This time, the US is holding drills simulating Kim Jong-un’s assassination.
According to a Wednesday article from The Daily Beast, the US and South Korea are prepping for new war games in which they would practice assassinating North Korea’s military leadership, including Kim Jong-un.
The exercises will mimic attacks on Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear facilities, as well as the bases that supply them. The war simulations will conclude with a “decapitation” exercise in which they strike North Korea’s command structure and kill Kim, according to sources familiar with the situation.
The US would not openly admit that it is rehearsing killing Kim in the war exercises, the report claims. Such exercises between Washington and Seoul have not taken place since President Trump called them off in 2018 following his meeting with Kim.
When the latest war simulations were staged, in 2017, Kim retaliated by ordering a nuclear weapons test underground. Since then, there have been no nuclear tests by the North, but by mimicking Kim’s assassination, the US runs the risk of inciting one.
Last weekend, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his South Korean equivalent, Lee Jong-sup, resolved to resume the exercises. The last time they were conducted, around 50,000 South Korean forces and 20,000 US troops took part.
After South Korea’s new President Yoon Suk-yeol promised to boost military ties with the US, war exercises were restarted. Yoon has stated he will adopt a more aggressive approach toward Pyongyang than his predecessor, Moon Jae-in, who advocated for a peaceful union with the North.
Yoon desires the US nuclear bombers and submarines to come back to South Korean turf. In 1991, the US completely evacuated all of its nuclear arsenal from the Korean peninsula.
Although the Biden administration has continued to say it is open to negotiations with Pyongyang, it has not provided any incentives, such as the lifting of sanctions, to persuade them to participate. The US has warned that the North may be planning for a nuclear test after they resumed conducting missile tests last year.