On Thursday, a top U.S. military official said that the U.S. and South Korea will go ahead with the planned joint military exercises next week. The plan to move ahead with the drills could further heighten tensions and spark renewed threats and rhetoric, the Stripes reported.

Tension on the Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s advancement in nuclear and missile technology capable of hitting the continental United States has increased tensions in recent weeks. Last week, the reclusive state threatened to launch four missiles at Guam which is a U.S. territory, and President Trump issued a series of warnings threatening to unleash “fire and fury” should Pyongyang make good on its threat.

The joint Military Exercises involving tens of thousands of troops from the U.S. and South Korea is expected to commence on Monday. North Korea’s main ally and trading partner China, has demanded the scrapping of the drills by the United States and South Korea in exchange for Pyongyang’s decision to put to a halt its planned nuclear strike.

According to NewsJS, Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs Of Staff Joseph Dunford said the drills were not part of options on the table for negotiation at any point in time. Dunford said he would advise the leadership of both countries not to heed the call to back down on the military drills. He added that the drills are very important to maintaining the alliance ability to defending itself from North Korea’s threat.

Military drills to go ahead

The Joint Chiefs of Staff further said as far as the threat in Pyongyang still exists, the alliance needs to be highly prepared and maintain readiness to respond aggressively to North Korea’s threat. Vice Chairman of China’s military commission Fan Changlong said China believes that resolving the issue through dialogue is the only effective possible means.

Changlong reiterated that China believes that consultations and negotiation are the only viable options on the table to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue and that by no means can military actions be a viable option.

Pyongyang has denounced the military drills and described it as rehearsals for war.The U.S. and South Korea are technically still at war with the pariah state after armistice agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

In July, North Korea successfully tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), which was widely condemned by world leaders and attracted an expanded United Nations Security Council sanctions.