Seoul, South Korea ( Associated Press) — The US aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan on Saturday concluded a naval exercise with South Korea in the Philippine Sea, both armies said, amid signs that North Korea is likely to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017. Preparing to explode. ,
The three-day exercise, which began on Thursday in international waters off the Japanese island of Okinawa, was apparently the first joint exercise by allies belonging to a US aircraft carrier since November 2017.
Ronald Reagan then joined the USS Theodore Roosevelt and Nimitz in a rare three-carrier exercise with South Korean naval ships during North Korea’s final provocative run in nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
At a summit in Seoul, President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol vowed to upgrade defense exercises and discuss Washington’s ways to defend its ally in the face of rising North Korean threats.
The 7th Fleet of the US Navy said that the aim of the exercise was to strengthen the interoperability of the two navies.
On Friday, Biden’s special envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, said Washington is “preparing for all contingencies” in close coordination with South Korea and Japan as it monitors North Korean arrangements for a possible nuclear test. which may be imminent.
Kim, who was in Seoul for a tripartite meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts to discuss the nuclear standoff with North Korea, said Washington is assessing that at its nuclear test ground in the northeastern city of Punggye-ri. Proceeding with preparation. ,
North’s next test will be the seventh since 2006 and the first since September 2017, when it claimed to have detonated a thermonuclear bomb to fit on its intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since 2019 over disagreements in exchange for the release of US-led sanctions for the North’s disarmament steps.
North Korea has already conducted 17 missile tests this year, including its first ICBM demonstration in nearly five years.