Japanese, US militaries launch major joint drills amid growing N. Korea tensions

Posted June 03, 2017

The Carl Vinson will soon leave the Sea of Japan, but the United States will dispatch the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to the western Pacific Ocean, ensuring it retains the ability to send two carriers to the Sea of Japan in the event of an unexpected contingency.

The USS Carl Vinson, one of two American carriers near the Korean Peninsula, left the waters Wednesday night, according to the South Korean navy.

US President Donald Trump has said Monday's missile test showed "disrespect" for China, while Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe vowed that the "North Korean problem is the worldwide community's top priority".

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USS Carl Vinson to leave Korea: Navy

Two US aircraft carriers and their escort vessels carried out naval manoeuvres in the Sea of Japan this week in a show of force directed at North Korea, a US official said Friday. "It's a major exercise for us", a spokesperson for Japan's Self Defense Force - the name used by Japan for its military - told the Reuters news agency.

A top adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Defense elaborates on the U.S. Navy's joint exercises in the Sea of Japan, saying it was not a provocation.

Then on Monday, Pyongyang tested a new short- to medium-range ballistic missile with control wings on its warhead, which it said came within 7 meters of the intended target. The aim of the joint drills is to enhance cooperation between United States and Japanese military on sea and in the air.

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North Korea which considers the deployments as an act of provocation, has threatened the U.S. with a nuclear attack in case of a direct military action.

On Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed more sanctions on North Korea's military, coal companies and financial firms.

A South Korean TV viewer watches footage of North Korea "supreme leader" Kim Jong Un.

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Tensions are rising on the peninsula as the United States is increasing pressure on Pyongyang. Experts believe that the country may also have constructed as many as 130 missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead - but North Korea is believed to need about three more years before developing a warhead compact enough to be mounted on a missile.

U.S. Pacific Command said the short-range ballistic missile North Korea launched on May 28 posed no threat to North America, adding that the U.S. military stands behind its "ironclad commitment to the security of our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan".

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