US, South Korea Begin Joint Naval Exercises In The Western Pacific

Three US aircraft carriers to conduct drills in Asia amid North Korean crisis

3 US aircraft carriers to enter waters off Korean Peninsula to stage joint drills: S.Korean military

The South Korean Navy has started a joint naval exercise with the USA involving three US nuclear-powered aircraft carriers to deliver a strong warning to North Korea.

The Pentagon said on Wednesday the drill involving three aircraft carrier strike groups in the Western Pacific would be carried out for the first time in a decade, confirming a Reuters report. "South Korea and the USA are now discussing whether or not the South Korean Navy will take part in the exercises as well", the source said.

Trump's rhetoric combined with repeated weapons tests by North Korea have increased tensions to some of the highest levels seen since the Korean War of 1950-1953.

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"This drill is aimed at enhancing the ability to fulfill extended deterrence, based on the ROK - U.S. alliance, to deter North Korea's nuclear provocations", according to the JCS.

From the South Korean side, two Aegis-equipped destroyers, one destroyer and four frigates will be mobilized for the joint exercises with the USA carriers, according to Yonhap.

The drill is an effort to show North Korea the country's military strength and capability to respond as the nuclear threat continues to loom in Pyongyang, reported the news outlet.

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The deployment of the three nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the region comes amid a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump to Asia.

The last time such drills were held was during the Valiant Shield exercises in 2006 and 2007, which took place off the coast of the US territory of Guam, which hosts two USA military bases and is on the North Korean radar for a potential missile strike. The US 7th Fleet did not mention where in the western Pacific the three aircraft carriers would be conducting their exercises. U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift described the training as a "rare opportunity".

South Korea and the United States have repeatedly said THAAD only serves to defend against the growing missile threat from North Korea.

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