Tensions on the Korean peninsula near boiling point
Japan, South Korea, and the United States dispatched naval vessels equipped with missile defense technology to an area of the Sea of Japan where four missiles recently fired by North Korea landed.
The three vessels involved in the exercise, USS Curtis Wilbur, ROKS Sejong the Great, and JS Kirishima, are guided missile destroyers equipped with the Aegis missile defense system, which uses AN/SPY-1 radar to detect, track, and ultimately destroy ballistic missiles launched within the radar’s effective range.
The Aegis missile defense system is also capable of working in tandem with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system recently deployed to an area in southeastern South Korea, much to the chagrin of China and Russia.
The United States Navy called the two-day exercise “a trilateral missile warning informational link exercise.”
“The exercise will employ tactical data link systems to trade communications, intelligence and other data among the ships in the exercise,” read a statement from the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, based in Japan.
In addition to the three guided missile destroyers in the Sea of Japan, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson recently joined South Korean naval forces for an annual military exercise dubbed “Foal Eagle.”
The United States has reportedly begun deploying Gray Eagle attack drones to South Korea, while conflicting reports indicate Army Rangers, Delta Force Green Berets, and Navy Seals may be training to infiltrate North Korea and decapitate the country’s leadership in the event of a military conflict.
North Korea reacted furiously to the naval deployment and military exercises, threatening to launch “merciless” precision strikes on South Korea.
“If they infringe on the our sovereignty and dignity even a bit, our army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater,” said North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, KCNA.
China, which recently called for an end to all joint South Korean/US military drills in return for a halt to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, expressed disappointment in the naval drill.
“North Korea has violated UN Security Council resolutions banning its ballistic missile launches; on the other hand, South Korea, the US — and now Japan — insist on conducting super-large-scale military drills,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.