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S. Korea, US drill begins under nuclear test cloud

Published on Feb 4, 2013 11:04 AM
USS San Francisco, a 6,800-ton Los Angeles-class submarine, berthed at Jinhae naval base in Changwon, about 410 km southeast of Seoul. The US nuclear-powered submarine has been anchored at the South Korean naval base since last Thursday waiting to attend joint drills with the South this week, local media reported. North Korea, which detonated nuclear explosions in 2006 and 2009, has vowed to conduct more rocket and nuclear tests after the UN Security Council censured it for a December long-range missile launch. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea and the United States launched a joint naval exercise involving a US nuclear submarine on Monday, as tensions rise on the Korean peninsula ahead of an expected nuclear test by North Korea.

A defence ministry spokesman confirmed the three-day drill - condemned as a "warmongering" exercise by North Korea - was underway in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) off the southeastern South Korean port of Pohang.

Although South Korean military officials stressed the drill was scheduled before the North threatened to detonate its third nuclear device, the presence of the submarine has been seen as a warning to Pyongyang.

The USS San Francisco, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, is joined in the drill by a 9,800-tonnes Aegis destroyer, the USS Shiloh.

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