South Korea and the United States staged their first joint military exercise in more than four years involving a US aircraft carrier, Seoul’s military said on Saturday amid reports that North Korea was preparing for a nuclear test. was.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the three-day exercise, which included air defence, anti-ship, anti-submarine and maritime intervention operations, took place in international waters off the Japanese island of Okinawa until Saturday.
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The exercise comes amid indications that North Korea is gearing up to conduct a nuclear test for the first time since 2017.
Seoul officials have said Pyongyang has conducted several experiments with a detonation device to prepare for its seventh underground explosion.
The JCS said the USS Ronald Reagan, a 100,000-ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam, the Aegis-equipped USS Benfold destroyer and the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn joined the exercise.
South Korea also sent the 14,500-ton Marado amphibious landing ship, the 7,600-ton Sejong the Great Destroyer and the 4,400-ton Munmu the Great Destroyer.
It was the allies’ first joint military exercise since South Korean President Eun Suk-yol took office last month, and their first bilateral exercise involving an aircraft carrier since November 2017.
“The exercise reinforced the determination of both countries to resolutely respond to North Korean provocations, while demonstrating America’s commitment to providing extended deterrence,” the JCS said in a statement.
At a recent summit with Yoon, US President Joe Biden promised to deploy “strategic assets” – usually including aircraft carriers, long-range bombers or missile submarines – to North Korea if necessary. As part of efforts to strengthen extended detention.
On Friday, nuclear envoys from the United States, South Korea and Japan met in Seoul for “all contingencies.”
The USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier, led a US military exercise in the Yellow Sea in March after North Korea conducted a full test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time since 2017.
The USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group also operated in the waters of the Korean Peninsula in April.
During North Korea’s last major flurry of ICBM and nuclear tests in 2017, the carriers USS Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt and Nimitz, and their multi-ship strike group, deployed near the peninsula in a show of force.
North Korea has long criticized the US-South Korea joint military exercise as a rehearsal for war.
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