February 23, 2023 11:16
South Korea, the U.S. and Japan staged a maritime drill in international waters on Wednesday to practice detecting, tracking and intercepting North Korea's medium- and long-range ballistic missiles. The drill was a rare trilateral show of force which came after the North launched an intercontinental ballistic missile last week.
"The drill was a warning message to the North that the three countries have the capabilities to intercept its ballistic missiles anytime," the Joint Chiefs of Staff here said.
Three Aegis destroyers took part -- South Korea's 7,600-ton Sejong the Great-class guided missile destroyer, the U.S. Navy's 6,900-ton USS Barry and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's 7,700-ton Atago-class guided missile destroyer.
The exercise was conducted in international waters about 185 km from Dokdo Islets and some 120 km from the Japanese mainland.
The three countries "strengthened security cooperation and further consolidated the emergency response system through the latest missile defense exercise," the JCS added.
A JCS spokesman said the three countries will engage in such cooperation more frequently. "North Korean nuclear missiles pose a direct threat not only to South Korea, but also to U.S. military bases in Japan and the U.S. mainland," a government source here said. "It won't be possible to respond properly unless the three countries cooperate because North Korean missiles are getting more advanced and better at avoiding interception."
Meanwhile, Taiwan condemned North Korea on Tuesday for jeopardizing regional peace and stability by firing an ICBM and missiles from a multiple rocket launcher. It said that as a member of the democratic bloc in the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan is also exposed to military threats from communist regimes including China.
China and Russia are shielding North Korea at the UN Security Council no matter what provocations Pyongyang is carrying out.
Senior officials of the U.S. and Taiwan recently held security talks to discuss how to defend the country against the threat from mainland China, and Taiwan is also strengthening military cooperation with Japan.
President Tsai Ing-wen said in a meeting with visiting U.S. lawmakers Tuesday that the country will "cooperate even more actively with the U.S. and other democratic partners to confront such bold challenges as authoritarian expansionism and climate change."
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