Oppose Military Exercises Targeting DPRK

U.S., Korean and International Organizations Call for Suspension of U.S.-ROK Joint Exercises

August 5, 2019. Protest outside U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea.

On January 27, a statement endorsed by 110 U.S., 197 south Korean, and 80 international civil society organizations was sent to U.S. President Biden calling on the U.S. to suspend all annual combined military exercises with the Republic of Korea (ROK) in order to restart diplomacy with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

This initiative was organized by U.S. and south Korean peace groups, including: Korea Peace Campaign of Veterans for Peace; Korea Peace Network; Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network; Peace Treaty Now; Women Cross DMZ; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; Civil Peace Forum; Korean Women's Movement for Peace; and South Korean Committee on June 15th Joint Declaration.

Spokesperson Colonel Ann Wright of the Korea Peace Campaign of Veterans for Peace organization said, "These war drills are expensive, provocative, and consistently provoke north Korea to take military actions in response. If the United States' goal is to reduce tensions, not increase them, then suspending these military exercises will be an important step forward."

Hyun Lee of Women Cross DMZ and Korea Peace Now said, "The majority of citizens on the Korean Peninsula want peace talks, not war drills and military confrontation. It's their lives that are at risk from the possibility of military exercises leading to mistakes and accidents that may cause disastrous military confrontation."

The organizers are calling on individuals to sign onto the statement and in so doing, join with many others from the U.S., south Korea and around the world working to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.


We, the undersigned civil society organizations in the United States, south Korea, and around the world, call on President Biden to suspend the annual U.S.-south Korea (ROK) combined military exercises. Suspending these costly and highly provocative war exercises will be a crucial step toward re-starting genuine diplomacy with north Korea (DPRK). It will remove a formidable obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the ongoing 70-year-old Korean War and allow all parties to focus on other intractable global issues facing our nations today, such as creating a nuclear weapons-free world and resolving the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In the mid-1950s, just after the Korean War, the U.S. and ROK began combined military exercises in south Korea that prepare for war with north Korea. In the 1970s the drills developed into large-scale exercises that mobilize considerable weapons, equipment and the deployment of U.S. troops stationed in both south Korea as well as U.S. bases outside the Korean Peninsula. Since the 2000s they have been based on operation plans that reportedly include pre-emptive strikes and "decapitation measures" against the north Korean leadership. Due to their scale and provocative nature, the annual U.S.-ROK combined exercises have long been a trigger point for heightened military and political tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

For years these combined military exercises have involved the use of B-2 bombers (which are designed to drop nuclear bombs), nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines, as well as the firing of long-range artillery and other weapons. They not only increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula, they have cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars and have caused irreparable harm to local residents and the environment in south Korea.

At a time when the world is facing urgent humanitarian, environmental, and economic crises, these military exercises divert critically needed resources away from our capacity to provide true human security such as health care, a sustainable environment, and other priorities. Furthermore, they heighten geopolitical tensions and risk re-igniting a hot war on the Korean Peninsula, which would have catastrophic consequences for millions of people.

We want peace talks, not war drills and military confrontation. We urge the Biden Administration to resolve the root cause of the conflict between the United States and north Korea -- the unresolved Korean War -- which has driven a dangerous arms race, harmed the most vulnerable people through punishing sanctions, and enforced the tragic separation of hundreds of thousands of Korean families. Continuing to rely on isolation, pressure, and threats to force north Korea's unilateral denuclearization is a recipe for failure.

Suspending the combined military exercises will be a major confidence-building measure toward renewing diplomacy to resolve the longstanding 70-year-old conflict with north Korea and, ultimately, achieve permanent peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Signed by 387 U.S., south Korean and international organizations.

To sign the statement click here. For statement in Korean click here.

(Photos: TML, KCG, BCKSA)

This article was published in

Volume 51 Number 5 - February 21, 2021    

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