US puts forces in South Korea on enhanced status, war looms

SEOUL: The United States has put its forces in South Korea on a heightened state of alert – known as “enhanced status” – as war between Seoul and Pyongyang looms.

On Friday, North Korea warned its southern neighbor to halt the “provocations” and its propaganda broadcasts against Pyongyang by Saturday afternoon or pay the price.

“If South Korea does not respond to our ultimatum,” North Korea’s deputy UN ambassador, An Myong-hun, told reporters in New York, “our military counteraction will be inevitable and that counteraction will be very strong.”

Despite the high tensions, the United States resumed joint war games, known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2015, with South Korea on Friday following a brief suspension on Thursday.

The drills simulate a full-scale invasion by North Korea. Pyongyang has denounced the joint drill as provocative.

“With regard to the situation on the Korean peninsula, the United States is very concerned by the [North Korean] August 4 violation of the armistice agreement and we are monitoring the situation very closely,” said David Shear, the assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs.

“We are in close touch with our commanders and with our [South Korean] ally, and the United States remains steadfast in its commitments to the defense of its allies and will continue to coordinate closely with the Republic of Korea,” he said.

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