US, South Korea, Japan to hold regular military drills
The U.S., South Korea and Japan agreed Friday to regularly hold joint missile defense and anti-submarine drills to counter growing threats in the region by North Korea, which has escalated its tests of short- and long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The agreement was reached during the 13th Defense Trilateral Talks in Washington. The talks featured Ely Ratner, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, Masuda Kazuo, Japan’s Director General for Defense Policy, and Heo Tae-keun, South Korea’s Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy, according to a Pentagon news release.
“The three sides discussed the regularization of missile defense exercises and anti-submarine exercises to deter and respond to [North Korea’s] nuclear and missile threats, and discussed ways to resume trilateral exercises, including maritime interdiction and anti-piracy exercises, in order to maintain peace and stability in the region in a more effective manner,” the Pentagon said.
North Korea said it successfully test-launched Thursday a new intercontinental ballistic missile powered by solid propellants, a development that if confirmed could provide the country with a weapon targeting the continental U.S. that would be hard to detect.
The representatives “condemned in the strongest terms” North Korea’s repeated violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions, including its continuous nuclear and missile provocations and illicit ship-to-ship transfers, the Pentagon said.
They urged North Korea to stop all destabilizing activities immediately and reaffirmed that should North Korea conduct a nuclear test, it would be met with a strong and resolute response from the international community, although they did not provide details of what that would be.