12:23 GMT +319 October 2019
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    North Korean soldiers (C) take photos towards a South Korean soldier (L) and a US soldier (R) standing before the military demarcation line (lower C) seperating North and South Korea within the Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjom on July 27, 2014

    Bracing for War?: Senator Wants US Military Families Out of S Korea

    © AFP 2019 / Ed Jones
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    With the biggest-ever US-South Korean air drill getting underway, Pyongyang has reportedly warned that a nuclear showdown could break out “at any moment” amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula after more than two months of relative quiet.

    After the North Korean warning was echoed by a senior White House official, Senator Lindsey Graham said he believes it's time to start moving out the families of US military personnel currently stationed in South Korea. He also urged the Pentagon to reconsider its decision to send more American military dependents there, the CBS reported.

    “It’s crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea. I want them to stop sending dependents, and I think it’s now time to start moving American dependents out of South Korea,” the South Carolina Republican said on CBS’s Face the Nation program.

    On Monday, Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling Workers’ party, described the Vigilant Ace exercises involving hundreds of US and South Korean military aircraft as “an open, all-out provocation against the DPRK, which may lead to a nuclear war any moment.”

    North Korea regards the five-day joint drill as a rehearsal for invasion.

    Tensions on the divided Korean peninsula shot up again last week after North Korea tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile, topped with a "super-large heavy warhead," which it claims is capable of striking any city on the US mainland.

    The Hwasong-15 soared 4,475 kilometers (2,800 miles) into the sky and, 53 minutes later, splashed down in waters off the coast of Japan.

    The launch was seen as Pyongyang’s response to President Donald Trump who had earlier restored North Korea to the US list of terror sponsors. It also hampered nascent diplomatic efforts and raised fears of a pre-emptive US strike.

    The personal insults traded by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in recent months have further stoked fears of war.

    READ MORE: Crisis Management: Top US, Chinese Generals Talk North Korea After Missile Test

    About 28,000 US troops are permanently stationed in South Korea, and Washington has repeatedly rejected signing a formal peace treaty with Pyongyang.

    Legally, the US and North Korea are still at war, with hostilities held at bay by an armistice signed in 1953, the year the Korean War officially came to an end.


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