South Korea, US, Japan to conduct drills amid rising DPRK tensions
South Korea, the US, and Japan will conduct joint naval exercises focused on detecting, tracking, and fighting underwater threats.
Two-day joint naval exercises were launched by South Korea, the US, and Japan on Monday, in what was described by the South Korean Defense Ministry in a statement as an alleged response to the recent missile launches by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The exercises will involve the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) aircraft carrier and two destroyers and will take place in the waters south of the South Korean island of Jeju.
South Korea stated that it will engage destroyers ROKS Yulgok Yi I (DDG-992), ROKS Choe Yeong (DDH-981) and ROKS Dae Jo-yeong (DDH-977), as well as ROKS Soyang (AOE-51) fast combat support ship.
In turn, Japan announced it will engage the JS Umigiri (DD-158) destroyer.
The defense ministry's statement noted, "Anti-submarine exercises were organized in order to enhance the ability of South Korea, the US, and Japan to respond to the growing underwater threat from North Korea, including its ballistic missiles for submarines."
According to the statement, the joint drills are aimed at detecting, tracking, and fighting underwater threats from the DPRK. Moreover, the drills will also focus on information exchange as well as search and rescue operations.
This type of drill was last conducted in September of 2022, six months earlier, according to the statement.
DPRK tests underwater nuclear drone Haeil-1
The DPRK national news agency, KCNA, revealed on March 28 that the DPRK's Academy of Defense Science conducted another test of an underwater strategic weapon system from March 25 to March 27.
The underwater nuclear attack drone Haeil-1 was launched for examination in Wonsan Bay on the afternoon of March 25 and arrived at the target point in the waters off Hwadae County in North Hamgyong Province on the morning of March 27.
The drone cruised for 41 hours and 27 minutes and successfully detonated the test warhead underwater. The path it took was along a jagged and oval course, which simulated the distance of 600 kilometers in the East Sea of Korea.
KCNA reported that "through the test, all tactical and technical specifications and underwater navigational and technical indices were correctly estimated and the reliability and safety of the weapon system were verified."
DPRK urges UN to halt 'provocative' US-S. Korea drills
The Foreign Ministry of the DPRK called on the United Nations to urge a halt to joint military drills by Seoul and Washington, state media reported earlier last month, on March 5.
In a statement by KCNA, DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Kim Son Gyong underlined that the drills and rhetoric from the two allies have pushed tensions to an "extremely dangerous level."
"The UN and the international community will have to strongly urge the US and South Korea to immediately halt their provocative remarks and joint military exercises," he said.
The "irresponsible acts" of the allies will only take the regional situation "to a very critical and uncontrollable phase," Kim warned.