To counter threats from North Korea, the US, South Korea, and Japan agreed to hold regular joint military drills, local media said on Saturday.
“The three sides discussed the regularization of missile defense exercises and anti-submarine exercises to deter and respond to DPRK’s (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) nuclear and missile threats,” Yonhap News Agency said, citing a joint statement after senior defense officials of the three allies met in Washington on Friday to discuss recent weapons tests carried out by Pyongyang.
The Defense Trilateral Talks (DTT) convened for the first time in three years, attended by the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner, South Korean Deputy Defense Minister for Policy Heo Tae-keun, and Japanese Director General for Defense Policy Kazuo Masuda.
Since 2020, the DTT were not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.
The allies also warned North Korea against further nuclear tests, urging it to return to the negotiations, according to Yonhap.
On Thursday, North Korean state-run media claimed that Pyongyang launched a new solid-fueled Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to “suppress invasions, and protect the safety of the nation.”
Later on Friday, US and South Korean forces launched joint air exercises involving the B-52H bomber, F-35A radar-evading fighter, and F-15K jet, while Washington deployed F-16 fighters, as well.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen again, with North Korea launching dozens of missiles in a series of weapons tests last year, including ICBMs.
Last week, North Korea confirmed that it conducted another underwater nuclear attack drone test.
Earlier, the country had tested a new underwater nuclear weapon capable of creating a super-scale radioactive tsunami during three days of military exercises in late March.
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