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Back US, South Korea, Japan hold missile defense drill to counter North’s nuclear threats

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The United States, South Korea, and Japan on Sunday held a joint naval missile defense exercise to counter North Korea’s evolving nuclear and missile threats, the South’s navy said. This came after the North launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

North Korea fired its latest Hwasong-18 missile, which Pyongyang describes as the core of its nuclear strike force, off the east coast on Wednesday in what it said was a ‘strong practical warning’ to the adversaries, according to Reuters reports.

The navy stated that Sunday’s trilateral drill was conducted in international waters between South Korea and Japan that brought together destroyers equipped with Aegis radar systems from the three countries.

Washington and its Asian allies have been working to improve their information-sharing system on North Korea’s missiles, while South Korea and Japan are independently linked to US radar systems but not to each other’s.

The military said that the exercise aimed at mastering the allies’ response to a North Korean ballistic missile launch with a scenario featuring a virtual target, Reuters reported.

A South Korean Navy officer said that they will effectively respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats with their military’s strong response system and the trilateral cooperation.

The North’s ICBM launch was denounced by the US, South Korea, and Japan, though Pyongyang has rejected the condemnation, saying it was an exercise of its right to self-defense.

The latest launch followed heated complaints from North Korea in recent days, accusing American spy planes of flying over its exclusive economic zone waters, condemning a recent visit to South Korea by a US nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine and vowing to take steps in reaction.

North Korea has also accused the United States of illegally flying over the economic zone eight times and warned of counter-action, state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister and a key ruling party official, in a press statement said, “In case of repeated illegal intrusion, the US forces will experience a very critical flight.”

She also claimed that South Korea had again impudently taken the lead in denying the encroachment on North Korea’s sovereignty and still the nation assert that it was a “normal flight of the ‘ROK’ and the US.”

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