S.Korea, U.S. Plan Joint Anti-Submarine Drill Next Month

South Korea and the United States have agreed to carry out a massive anti-submarine training drill in the West Sea sometime next month, mobilizing a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, in a strong protest against North Korea's sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan.

A senior government official on Thursday said the two allies "decided to hold a large-scale joint drill in June, much earlier than originally planned, to express our strong determination to take steps against North Korea."

The drill was originally scheduled in fall. It will also take place closer to the inter-Korean sea border than usual. A number of large aircraft carriers such as the George Washington and Aegis ships will take part.

Cheong Wa Dae said President Lee Myung-bak plans to announce a comprehensive military, diplomatic and economic response to North Korean military provocations next week. Defense Minister Kim Tae-young called an emergency meeting of top military commanders on Thursday afternoon to discuss ways of preparing for North Korean provocations and possible military measures against the North.

Seoul has already started to lobby for additional sanctions against North Korea in the UN Security Council and is apparently minded to cut all business with the North except the Kaesong Industrial Complex, ban North Korean ships from crossing the Jeju Strait, and resume psychological warfare in the demilitarized zone.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 21, 2010 13:00 KST