Seoul, Tokyo, Washington conduct joint drills after Pyongyang’s ICBM launch

Seoul, Dec 20 (EFE).- South Korea, Japan, and the United States on Wednesday conducted trilateral air drills over the Korean Peninsula, featuring two US B-1 strategic bombers, days after North Korea tested an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).

The joint military exercise took place in a maritime zone east of the South Korean island of Jeju, the country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.

“This exercise was planned (…) to strengthen the three countries’ capabilities to respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, and to demonstrate the strong resolve for joint response,” the statement added.

The joint maneuvers were launched to demonstrate the so-called “extended deterrence” strategy against North Korea’s escalating military activities in the Korean Peninsula, it said.

The extended deterrence strategy is Washington’s commitment to Seoul, involving, among other measures, the deployment of US strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula to discourage North Korea’s development of weapons of mass destruction.

So far this year, the allies have conducted at least 13 joint air exercises on the Korean Peninsula, with eight of them featuring the deployment of US strategic bombers, including the nuclear-capable B-52.

Wednesday’s exercise, the second trilateral air drill conducted by Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington this year, included South Korean F-15 fighter jets, US F-16s, and Japanese F-2 bombers.

On Monday, North Korea tested a solid-fuel ICBM, marking its fifth long-range missile launch this year.

Following the failure of denuclearization negotiations with the US in 2019, North Korea has intensified its armament modernization process, mostly deploying military satellites and conducting long-range missile tests.

North Korea, which has consistently rejected the resumption of denuclearization talks, has also expedited efforts to strengthen ties and find common ground with China and Russia amid rising tensions with Washington and Seoul.

Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo have also increased their military cooperation and joint maneuvers in the Pacific region in response to the growing military threats from North Korea. EFE


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