The United States and South Korea begin joint naval maneuvers, denounced by Pyongyang

The United States and South Korea begin joint naval maneuvers, denounced by Pyongyang

South Korea and the United States began their first joint naval exercises in five years near the peninsula on Monday, a day after North Korea fired a ballistic missile that the two countries accused of “setting powder on fire.”

The United States is South Korea’s main security ally, where some 28,500 American troops are stationed to protect the country from its nuclear-armed neighbor to the north.

Conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who came to power in May, is trying to strengthen this military alliance after the previous government’s failed diplomatic overtures with Pyongyang.

“This exercise was prepared to demonstrate the strong will of the South Korea-US alliance to respond to North Korean provocations,” the South Korean Navy said in a statement.

The four-day exercises mobilize more than twenty ships, including the American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, as well as significant air forces.

They will consist of naval and anti-submarine warfare simulations, tactical maneuvers and other maritime operations, the Navy said.

These exercises begin the day after a ballistic missile test by Pyongyang, the latest in a long line that began a few months ago.

North Korea also adopted a new doctrine in early September, amid international sanctions for its weapons programs, proclaiming it would never give up nuclear weapons.

His UN Ambassador Kim Song, speaking on behalf of his country at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, condemned the drills “which are causing concern in the Korean peninsula”.

“Obviously this is an extremely dangerous act to set the powder on fire and risk bringing the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war,” he added.

– “Confrontation” –

When asked about the North Korean shooting Monday, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, said China has taken note of the event, as well as recent military exercises in the region co-hosted by the United States.

“The main crux of the problem that explains the current situation on the Korean Peninsula is that the legitimate and reasonable concerns (of North Korea) have not been adequately addressed,” he told a regular news conference.

Beijing has repeatedly asked Washington to reassure Pyongyang specifically about its security.

“We hope that all parties (…) will stick to a political agreement and manage to resolve each other’s concerns in a balanced manner through dialogue and consultation,” Wang Wenbin said.

“The United States must live up to its responsibilities, end the confrontation and pressure, and create the necessary conditions for the resumption of meaningful dialogue,” he stressed.

Washington and Seoul have long held joint military exercises. Both allies insist on their purely defensive character, but North Korea sees them as a dress rehearsal for a future invasion of its territory.

Last month, the United States and South Korea held their largest joint military exercises since 2018. Those exercises had been scaled back due to COVID-19 and a diplomatic warming between Seoul and Pyongyang that has since ended.


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