SEOUL: North Korea lambasted South Korea’s latest round of military exercises on Monday, as well as its deployment of two US-made F-35A stealth fighter jets.
Pyongyang called the moves an “escalation of military tension,” as inter-Korean relations continue to sour after the failed Hanoi Summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February.
“It’s a hostile action to escalate military tension, and an explicit challenge to efforts for peace,” Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean website, stated on Sunday, referring to the South Korean Air Force’s receipt of the two planes on March 29.
The radar-evading fifth-generation jets arrived as part of a 40-plane delivery, worth around $6.5 billion.
Stealth fighter aircraft can penetrate deep into enemy territory without detection to conduct reconnaissance and ground attacks — a key strategic threat to Pyongyang and its ground-based nuclear arsenal.
“South Korea joined the ranks of Asia’s few radar-evading warplane operators,” Seoul’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration said in a brief statement.
Uriminzokkiri denounced the F-35A deployment as “a breach of faith” running counter to the reciprocal agreements signed by the militaries of the two nations. The agreements called for removing frontline guard posts and establishing air and naval buffer zones.
“The South Korean authorities should carefully consider catastrophic consequences from the introduction of foreign weapons systems,” the site added.
Uriminzokkiri also took aim at Seoul’s military exercise plans, stating: “The South Korean military authorities say their field exercises will be reduced in scale over time, but such exercises reverse the military agreements of the two Koreas, as they are aimed at invasion and provocation.”
“It’s a ritual that propaganda sites issue condemnations of South Korea’s military modernization programs and training exercises,” Moon Keun-shik, an analyst at the Korea Defense & Security Forum, a Seoul-based private defense think-tank, told Arab News.
“But the latest condemnation appears to be an expression of discontent over the stalled inter-Korean economic projects limited by US-led sanctions.”
The cross-border relationship cooled following the collapse of the Hanoi Summit, which ended in disagreement over the terms of denuclearization and sanctions relief.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is set to travel to the US to hold talks with Trump on April 11 in a bid to make a breakthrough in the stalemate.
Trump says he’ll leave if Electoral College seats Biden
Updated 36 min 25 sec ago
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will leave the White House if the Electoral College formalizes President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory — even as he insisted such a decision would be a “mistake” — as he spent his Thanksgiving renewing baseless claims that “massive fraud” and crooked officials in battleground states caused his election defeat.
“Certainly I will. But you know that,” Trump said Thursday when asked whether he would vacate the building, allowing a peaceful transition of power in January. But Trump — taking questions for the first time since Election Day — insisted that “a lot of things” would happen between now and then that might alter the results.
“This has a long way to go,” Trump said, even though he lost.
The fact that a sitting American president even had to address whether or not he would leave office after losing reelection underscores the extent to which Trump has smashed one convention after another over the last three weeks. While there is no evidence of the kind of widespread fraud Trump has been alleging, he and his legal team have nonetheless been working to cast doubt on the integrity of the election and trying to overturn voters’ will in an unprecedented breach of Democratic norms.
Trump spoke to reporters in the White House’s ornate Diplomatic Reception Room after holding a teleconference with US military leaders stationed across the globe. He thanked them for their service and jokingly warned them not to eat too much turkey, then turned to the election after ending the call. He repeated grievances and angrily denounced officials in Georgia and Pennsylvania, two key swing states that helped give Biden the win.
Trump claimed, despite the results, that this may not be his last Thanksgiving at the White House. And he insisted there had been “massive fraud,” even though state officials and international observers have said no evidence of that exists and Trump’s campaign has repeatedly failed in court.
Trump’s administration has already given the green light for a formal transition to get underway. But Trump took issue with Biden moving forward.
“I think it’s not right that he’s trying to pick a Cabinet,” Trump said, even though officials from both teams are already working together to get Biden’s team up to speed.
And as he refused to concede, Trump announced that he will be traveling to Georgia to rally supporters ahead of two Senate runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate. Trump said the rally for Republican Sens. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler would likely be held Saturday. The White House later clarified he had meant Dec. 5.
One of the reasons Republicans have stood by Trump and his baseless claims of fraud has been to keep his loyal base energized ahead of those runoffs on Jan. 5. But Trump, in his remarks, openly questioned whether that election would be fair in a move that could dampen Republican turnout.
“I think you’re dealing with a very fraudulent system. I’m very worried about that,” he said. “People are very disappointed that we were robbed.”
As for the Electoral College, Trump made clear that he will likely never formally concede, even if he said he would leave the White House.
“It’s gonna be a very hard thing to concede. Because we know there was massive fraud,” he said, noting that, “time isn’t on our side.”
“If they do,” vote against him, Trump added, “they’ve made a mistake.”
Asked whether he would attend Biden’s inauguration, Trump said he knew the answer but didn’t want to share it yet.
But there were some signs that Trump was coming to terms with his loss.
At one point he urged reporters not to allow Biden the credit for pending coronavirus vaccines. “Don’t let him take credit for the vaccines because the vaccines were me and I pushed people harder than they’ve ever been pushed before,” he said.
As for whether or not he plans to formally declare his candidacy to run again in 2024 — as he has discussed with aides— Trump he didn’t “want to talk about 2024 yet.”
All states must certify their results before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14, and any challenge to the results must be resolved by Dec. 8. States have already begun that process, including Michigan, where Trump and his allies tried and failed to delay the process, and Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Vote certification at the local and state level is typically a ministerial task that gets little notice, but that changed this year with Trump’s refusal to concede and his unprecedented attempts to overturn the results of the election through a fusillade of legal challenges and attempts to manipulate the certification process in battleground states he lost.
Biden won by wide margins in both the Electoral College and popular vote, where he received nearly 80 million votes, a record.