SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – A U.S. military base in South Korea accidentally fired an alarm siren instead of a bugle, which briefly frightened the US and its allies to look for signs of a provocation from North Korea that warned it could ” Christmas gift ”for bogged down nuclear negotiations.
The siren at Camp Casey, located near the North Korean border, was triggered by “human error” at around 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, said Lt. Col. Martyn Crighton, a civil servant from the 2nd Infantry Division.
The operator immediately identified the fault and alerted all units at the base of the false alarm that did not disrupt operations, Crighton said in an email on Saturday.
The incident occurred a day before Japanese broadcaster NHK panicked when he accidentally sent a news alert that North Korea launched a missile at Japan that landed off the northeastern island of Hokkaido in early Friday. The broadcaster apologized and said the alarm was for media training purposes.
Before the deadline set by President Kim Jong Un for the Trump administration, North Korea put pressure on Washington to offer mutually acceptable conditions for a nuclear deal. There are concerns that Pyongyang could do something provocative if Washington does not back off and lift sanctions against the broken economy of the north.
The north fired two missiles at Japan during a provocative run in arms tests in 2017. This included three flight tests with intercontinental developmental missiles, which showed potential capabilities to reach the US mainland.
Tensions eased when Kim began diplomacy with Washington and Seoul in 2018 and tried to use his nuclear weapons for economic and security benefits.
Negotiations have stalled, however, since a February Kim-President Donald Trump summit failed after the U.S. side rejected North Korean calls for comprehensive sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
In a statement released earlier this month, North Korean senior diplomat Ri Thae Song claimed that the Trump administration no longer had enough time to save the North’s hesitant nuclear negotiations.
The North has also announced in the past few weeks that it has carried out two “crucial” tests on a long-range missile facility that it believes would reinforce nuclear deterrence, leading to speculation about the development of a new ICBM or the preparation of a satellite launch.