North Korea’s decision to downsize its annual winter military exercises this year has been seen partly as a public relations "ploy" by the nuclear-armed dictatorship given the approaching Olympic Games in South Korea. U.S. officials said, this is a development they believe reflects growing pressure from international sanctions on the isolated nation’s economy and its military preparedness.
Responding North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, the U.N. Security Council has pass several resolutions which banned the export of North Korean coal and limited vital petroleum imports by the end of 2017. Restrictions on shipments of oil and refined petroleum products to North Korea imposed by the United Nations have led the country to conserve fuel by cutting back on ground and air training exercises.
The winter maneuvers of North Korea are always viewed as a critical component in maintaining the country’s military readiness. U.S. military planners usually consider the spring as the most dangerous time of the year since the North Korea’s military has just completed the extensive training and maneuvers.
Even though the decision of downsizing the military exercise has been made, the satellite imagery has still shown that the large military parade in Pyongyang is preparing extensively for the maneuver. U.S. and South Korean officials believe that the maneuver will be held on the eve of the Winter Olympic’ opening ceremony next week.