Lloyd Austin, the Secretary of Defense, recently sent a chilling warning to North Korea: American forces are prepared to “fight tonight” after the North Korean dictatorship criticized the military drills taking place in South Korea.

The South Korean and American militaries have once again started their springtime drills in South Korea, after the exercises had been paused in February 2020 due to COVID concerns.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Austin continued to discuss the American military’s objective to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, as well as the importance of “military readiness” in the event of a serious conflict.

Austin noted that the military has continued to make progress through the transition “of wartime Operational Control to a [Republic of Korea]-commanded, future Combined Forces Command.”

He noted that the transition would take time but he also believes that once the transition takes place, the overall alliance between South Korea and the United States will be strengthened.

American-led diplomacy that focuses on the nuclear weapons program in North Korea remains in a stalemate due to various disputes over sanctions. In addition, other experts are having a debate regarding whether or not the United States and its allies should aim for a detail that would curtail the nuclear activities in North Korea in exchange for loosening sanctions, which may help prevent its arsenal from growing.

Kim You Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un, issued a warning to the United States to “refrain from causing a stink,” while simultaneously criticizing the border drills taking place between the United States and North Korea. 

According to KCNA, the state-run propaganda in North Korea, Kim Yo Jung announced that if the United States “wants to sleep in peace for coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step.”

Other experts warn that North Korea may become more volatile with its missile tests in order to increase its negotiation power. The Asian nation’s economy has continued hurting due to natural disasters from last year, as well as pandemic-related border closures, which have greatly reduced its exports.

Austin, Blinken, and their South Korean colleagues released a joint statement noting that North Korea’s continued ballistic missile issues remain “a priority for the alliance,” which reaffirmed their shared commitment to addressing these issues.

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