US and Asian allies hold joint drills to counter North Korea
The joint naval missile drill by South Korea, Japan and the United States may trigger a strong response from North Korea — which had threatened "more practical and offensive" action against the military exercises.
South Korea, the United States and Japan conducted a joint naval missile drill in waters near the Korean Peninsula on Monday, in their efforts to counter North Korea's nuclear-capable missiles threats, the South Korean navy said.
"It is an opportunity to strengthen trilateral security cooperation against North Korea's escalating nuclear and missile threats," Captain Kim Ki-young of the South Korea's destroyer "Yulgok Yi I" said in a statement.
The naval exercises involved an Aegis destroyer from each country.
The three-way naval drills took place in international waters and their goal was to improve detection, tracking and information sharing about incoming North Korean ballistic missiles, South Korea's navy said.
The United States and South Korea also launched drills involving some 110 warplanes, including advanced F-35 fighter jets, that will continue through April 28.
Simmering tensions in Korean peninsula
The military exercises by the US and its Asian allies could elicit strong responses from Pyongyang, which has blamed their increased security cooperation as the reason behind boosting its own military power.
In the past few weeks, Pyongyang has ramped up its own military exercises. For the first time, it test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) run on solid fuel last week. Experts say the technology would allow North Korea to launch missiles more easily and quickly.
North Korea has threatened "more practical and offensive" steps against US' military exercises along with South Korea. In March, the US and South Korea conducted their biggest military exercises in years, which were condemned by North Korea as it increased its own test activities.
mf/rt (AP, Reuters)