US aircraft carrier group to conduct joint exercise with South Korean forces next month

A US B1-B bomber (left) escorted by a South Korean F-15K fighter as they fly over South Korea during a 10-hour mission on July 30, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL (Bernama) - A US aircraft carrier and its accompanying battleships will conduct a joint exercise with South Korean forces next month amid rising geopolitical risks on the Korean Peninsula, China s Xinhua news agency reported.

According to a report submitted by Seoul's Defence Ministry on Monday (Sept 18) to the parliamentary defence committee, the South Korean military will take effective measures to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threat.

As part of the efforts, a US B-1B strategic bomber will be sent to the Korean Peninsula later this month, and joint South Korea-US-Japan missile warning drills will be carried out from this month to early October.

In October, the US aircraft carrier strike group, led by the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan, will be dispatched to the peninsula to stage a joint naval exercise with South Korean forces, according to the defence ministry report.

The ministry said it will enhance the mobilisation of US strategic military assets and rapidly wrap up consultations with the US on bilateral missile guidelines governing the payload of South Korea's homegrown ballistic missiles.

Seoul will also continue efforts to secure the so-called three-pillar system, including its indigenous missile defence system and preemptive attack capability against North Korea's nuclear and missile sites, while ramping up cooperation with the international community for sanctions and pressure on Pyongyang, the ministry said.

The report came amid rising geopolitical risks on the peninsula caused by North Korea's launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), called Hwasong-12, on Friday.

This followed Pyongyang's test on Sept 3 of what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb that can be fitted atop a ballistic missile with intercontinental capability.

The UN Security Council unanimously approved a new resolution toughening sanctions on North Korea, which curtails the country's oil imports, bans all of its textile exports and prohibits further work permits abroad for North Korea workers.

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