Amid North Korea threat, US-South Korea joint naval drill begins

korea-drillThe US and South Korean navies have begun a week-long exercise in the Korean waters even as there are reports that North Korea may be conducting a fresh missile test undeterred by international repudiation or sanctions.

The ongoing US-South Korean naval exercise involves 40 warships from the two countries, including the famed USS Ronald Reagan.

Reports suggest there has been a surge of activity in the Pyongyang region in the last two days when missile vehicles have been “appearing and disappearing”. Transporter erector launchers have also been spotted indicating a possible missile launch.

North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency has slammed the US-South Korean naval drill another provocation and a “reckless act of war maniacs.”

Speaking to Russian news agency TASS last week, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho had threatened to launch a hail of fire on the US if it continued with its intimidation tactics. “With his bellicose and insane statement at the United Nations, Trump, you can say, has lit the wick of war against us. We need to settle the final score; only with a hail of fire, not words,” Mr. Yong Ho had said. The minister’s comments came in the wake of US’s air-to-ground missile manoeuvres on October 10 near the Korean coast. “We have almost reached the last point on the journey towards our final goal – to achieve a real balance of power with the United States,” the minister had said.

Citing Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s visit to South Korea last week, the KCNA, quoting a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman, warned Australia of disastrous consequences if it aligned with the US in its moves against North Korea. “Australia is showing dangerous moves of zealously joining the frenzied political and military provocations of the US,” it said.

During her visit to South Korea, Ms. Bishop had stated that “there may be another provocative act by North Korea around the time of the 19th Party Congress (of China) – we hope not – but this seems to have been a pattern of behaviour.” China’s most important political event, the twice-a-decade National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is set to begin on October 18.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that President Donald Trump has made it clear that diplomatic efforts should continue. “Those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops,” Mr. Tillerson said.




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