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US, South Korea’s Combined Naval Exercise After North Korea’s Missile Test

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US South Korea's Combined Naval Exercise After North Korea's Missile Test

A day after Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile test, South Korea and the United States started their first joint naval drill near the peninsula in five years on Monday.

About 28,500 US soldiers are stationed in South Korea as Washington, Seoul’s primary security partner guards the country against the nuclear-armed North.

After years of unsuccessful negotiation with North Korea under his predecessor, South Korea’s hardline President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has pledged to intensify joint military drills with the United States.

The South Korean navy issued a statement saying, “This drill was designed to display the strong resolve of the South Korea-US alliance to react to North Korean provocations.”

More than 20 ships and a variety of planes will participate in the four-day exercise off the east coast of South Korea, which will include exercises on anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare operations, tactical maneuvers, and other maritime activities, it was noted.

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Kwak Kwang-sub, a senior South Korean navy official, said, “Through this exercise, we will further develop the capacity to undertake cooperative operations between the two nations’ naval forces.

The exercises came a day after another ballistic missile launch by nuclear-armed Pyongyang, the most recent in a record-breaking flurry of weapons tests this year.

Several international restrictions are in place against North Korea because of its efforts to build nuclear and ballistic missiles.

On Saturday, the president’s office said that Seoul had also discovered indications the North was getting ready to launch an SLBM, a missile Pyongyang last tested in May.

The North updated its nuclear policy earlier this month, enshrining a “first strike” concept and pledging never to give up its nuclear weapons.

The allies have engaged in ongoing joint training, which they maintain is only defensive. However, North Korea views them as invasion drills.

The most extensive joint military exercises between the US and South Korea since 2018 were held last month.

This marked the start of extensive training exercises that had been reduced due to COVID-19 and the diplomatic détente with Pyongyang.

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