US, South Korea, Japan hold drills after Pyongyang missile tests

Seoul, Feb 22 (EFE).- South Korea, Japan and the United States on Wednesday staged missile defense drills in the Sea of Japan just days after North Korea tested two ballistic missiles and an intercontinental ballistic missile in the region.

The five-hour trilateral military exercises focused on the detection, tracking and interception of missiles as well as real-time information sharing.

“Through the maritime missile defense exercise this time, the South, the US and Japan strengthened security cooperation and further solidified their response systems,” the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

The drills took place to the east of the South Korean island of Ulleung in the Sea of Japan, known as the East Sea by the Koreas, with the participation of three destroyers equipped with the Aegis Combat System – South Korea’s Sejong the Great, Japan’s Atago and the USS Barry.

On Saturday, North Korea launched a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, the second-largest in its arsenal, over the region. The projectile flew 900 kilometers before falling into waters in Japan’s exclusive economic zone to the west of Hokkaido.

Pyongyang’s repeated missile tests, which hit a record number last year, have prompted Seoul and Tokyo to forge closer security ties despite stalling relations in other areas between the regional powers.

The US, Japan and South Korea conducted similar military drills last October.

Seoul and Washington plan to hold large military drills in March amid rocketing tensions in the region and fears that an error of judgment from North Korea could lead to deadly consequences. EFE


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