US, Japan, South Korea launch missile defense exercises
On April 17, the navies of South Korea, the US and Japan have started trilateral missile defense exercises in the international waters of the East Sea
Yonhap reported the information, citing the South Korean Navy Command.
The exercises were launched as part of the three countries' efforts to strengthen the deterrence of North Korean threats.
They involve three destroyers equipped with the US Aegis system, which is an integrated network of missile detection and destruction capabilities, the South Korean Yulgok Yi I, the USS Benfold and the Japanese JS Atago.
During the maneuvers, the military will practice detecting and tracking targets simulated by a computer-generated ballistic missile, as well as exchanging information in real time.
"This was an opportunity to strengthen security cooperation among the South, the US and Japan against the North's advancing nuclear and missile threats, and firm up our Navy's capabilities to respond to ballistic missile launches," a South Korean Navy spokesman said in a statement.
The last time the three countries held such trilateral missile defense exercises was in February. And from April 3 to 4, the navies of South Korea, the US, and Japan conducted two-day anti-submarine exercises.
Earlier, North Korea's leader called for an increase in the production of weapons-grade nuclear material to increase the country's arsenal.
In early April, the country conducted another test of an underwater combat drone capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
And recently, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for strengthening the deterrence of the war in the country with "more practical and offensive methods" to counter the United States and South Korea’s "aggression.”
On the morning of April 13, North Korea fired a missile toward the East Sea. The DPRK said it was testing a new solid-fuel ballistic missile, the Hwasong-18.
On April 15, the South Korean Armed Forces fired warning shots to repel a DPRK patrol ship that temporarily crossed the disputed western maritime border between the countries.
Subsequently, senior defense officials from Japan, the US, and South Korea agreed to intensify the trilateral exchange of real-time information on North Korea's missile launches.