In response to North Korea`s sixth nuclear test and continued missile launch provocations, South Korea and the U.S. will perform a massive joint military exercise next month, accompanied by a U.S Navy strike group, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said Monday in a report to a parliamentary committee.
It is rare for Seoul to release the detail of an out-of-routine military drill schedule with U.S. key strategic weapons. It did not specify the carrier strike group.
Japanese media reported that nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan of the U.S. Navy fleet in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Preference, would be dispatched to the Korean peninsula.
The defense ministry said South Korea will continue to strengthen the regular deployment of U.S. strategic assets and complete talks to change missile guidelines between the two allies to allow South Korea to up its missile capabilities as soon as possible.
The government will speed up efforts to ready the Kill Chain and the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) systems and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) and further expand cooperation with the international community to rein in North Korea`s evolving nuclear and missile capabilities.
The defense ministry continued that the North is very much likely to conduct more missile tests in the future, and that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, where it conducted all six of its past nuclear experiments, is prepared to conduct a seventh test at any time.
Regarding the North’s latest missile test, the ministry said the intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missile was fired at a normal angle to show North Korea’s defiance of a recently passed United Nations Security Council resolution and that it is capable to striking the U.S. military base in Guam.
Separately on Monday, two U.S. B-1B strategic bombers and four F-35B stealth fighters flew from Guam and Japan over the Korean peninsula for a joint bombing drill with South Korean F-15K fighters
By Ahn Doo-won
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