South Korea, the United States and Japan hold anti-N. Korean underwater exercises

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea, U.S. and Japanese warships kicked off their first trilateral anti-submarine drills in five years on Friday, after North Korea renewed missile tests this week in apparent response to bilateral training by South Korean and US forces. .

The North’s five recent missile launches, the first such tests in a month, also took place before and after the US vice president Kamala Harris visited South Korea on Thursday and reaffirmed the United States’ “ironclad” commitment to the security of its Asian allies.

The one-day, three-country training off the east coast of the Korean peninsula is meant to counter a North Korean push to improve its ability to fire missiles from submarines, a navy statement said. South Korean.

North Korea has built larger submarines, including a nuclear-powered one, and has been testing sophisticated missiles that can be fired in recent years. This is an alarming development for its rivals as it is more difficult to detect missiles launched underwater in advance.

South Korean officials said last weekend they had detected signs that North Korea was preparing to test a missile from a submarine.

Friday’s drills involve the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan as well as American, South Korean and Japanese destroyers, according to the Navy statement. During the training, navy ships from the three nations were to search for and track a US nuclear-powered submarine posing as a North Korean submarine while exchanging related information, according to media reports.

“We will respond and neutralize any form of North Korean provocations overwhelmingly and decisively,” Captain Cho Chung-ho, commander of the South Korean navy troops who participated in the training, was quoted in the statement as saying. .

In addition to its submarine-launched missiles, North Korea also has a variety of nuclear-capable missiles that put both the United States and its allies South Korea and Japan within striking range. This year, North Korea has carried out a record number of missile tests as it refuses to resume long-stalled nuclear diplomacy with the United States.

Friday’s workout comes as South Korea and Japan seek to mend ties frayed by history and trade disputes. The two Asian countries together host a total of 80,000 American troops. Earlier this week, the Reagan took part in joint U.S.-South Korean exercises near the peninsula, the first such bilateral exercise involving a U.S. aircraft carrier since 2017.

The North’s latest missile tests took place on Thursday, hours after Harris left South Korea. During his visit to the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, Harris said, “In the South, we see a thriving democracy. In the North, we see a brutal dictatorship.

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