US, Seoul to launch big navy drill

Bangkok Post - - ASIA -

SEOUL: The United States and South Korea will kick off a ma­jor navy drill next week, the US navy said yes­ter­day, a fresh show of force against North Korea over its mis­sile and nu­clear tests.

Ten­sions over North Korea’s weapons pro­gramme have soared in re­cent months with Py­ongyang launch­ing a flurry of mis­siles and con­duct­ing its sixth and most pow­er­ful nu­clear test in de­fi­ance of mul­ti­ple sets of UN sanc­tions.

The United States has since ramped up mil­i­tary drills with South Korea and Ja­pan, its two clos­est re­gional al­lies in the re­gion.

In a state­ment, the US 7th Fleet said the USS Ron­ald Rea­gan air­craft car­rier and two US de­stroy­ers would take part in the drill along­side South Korean Navy ves­sels.

The ex­er­cise, slated for Mon­day un­til Oct 26 in the Sea of Ja­pan and the Yel­low Sea, would pro­mote “com­mu­ni­ca­tions, in­ter­op­er­abil­ity, and part­ner­ship”, the state­ment added.

The move will likely rile Py­ongyang, which had pre­vi­ous warned against any up­com­ing joint ex­er­cises.

“If US im­pe­ri­al­ists and the South Korean pup­pets ig­nite a nu­clear war of ag­gres­sion against us, it would only ad­vance their own demise,” the state-run KCNA news agency said.

There has been a flurry of US mil­i­tary hard­ware move­ment around the Korean penin­sula in re­cent days.

Yes­ter­day the nu­clear-pow­ered USS Michi­gan sub­ma­rine ar­rived at South Korea’s south­ern port of Bu­san, ac­cord­ing to Yon­hap news agency, just days af­ter another nu­clear-pow­ered sub­ma­rine, the USS Tus­con, left af­ter a five-day visit.

Ear­lier this week the US flew two su­per­sonic heavy bombers over the Korean Penin­sula, stag­ing the first night-time joint aviation ex­er­cises with Ja­pan and South Korea.

That mis­sion came 17 days af­ter four US F-35B stealth fighter jets and two B-1Bs flew over the penin­sula.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has en­gaged in an es­ca­lat­ing war of words with North Korean strong­man Kim Jongun, trad­ing in­sults amid ris­ing ten­sions be­tween the nu­clear-armed ri­vals.

On Tues­day, Mr Trump dis­cussed “a range of op­tions” with his na­tional se­cu­rity team to re­spond to North Korea’s re­cent mis­sile and nu­clear tests.

It came days af­ter he said that diplo­matic ef­forts have con­sis­tently failed, adding that “only one thing will work”.

AFP

The USS Michi­gan, a nu­clear-pow­ered US Navy sub­ma­rine, ar­rives in the port of Bu­san on Oct 13.

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