As North Korean missile threats grow, the South Korean, American, and Japanese navy started their first anti-submarine training in six months on Monday, according to South Korea’s military.
The two-day exercises coincide with fears that North Korea may perform its first nuclear test since 2017 following the country’s recent disclosure of a sort of battlefield nuclear bomb.
According to a statement from South Korea’s Defense Ministry, the nuclear-powered USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and naval destroyers from South Korea, the United States, and Japan participated in maritime drills in international waters off the southern island of Jeju.
According to the statement, the training was organized to strengthen the three nations’ abilities to counter undersea security threats posed by North Korea’s developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles and other assets.
It instructed the three nations to find and monitor unmanned underwater vehicles that South Korea and the United States were using to impersonate enemy submarines and other assets.
Because it is more difficult to predict such launches in advance, North Korea’s submarine-launched missiles pose a severe threat to the security of the United States and its allies.
The North has been developing larger submarines, including a nuclear-powered one, and testing sophisticated underwater-launched ballistic missiles in recent years.
In retaliation for the earlier South Korea-U.S. test, North Korea conducted a series of missile tests last month—drills for the two militaries.
North Korea may be attempting to broaden its arsenal of underwater weapons, as evidenced by the weaponry tested, which included a submarine-launched cruise missile and an underwater drone with nuclear capability.
About ten “Hwasan (volcano)-31” capsule-shaped warheads with various serial numbers were depicted in photos published last week by North Korea’s state media.
According to a placard on an adjacent wall, the “Hwasan-31” warhead is compatible with eight different short-range weapons.
During earlier test flights, these weapons have demonstrated their ability to hit essential targets in South Korea, including American military installations.
As North Korea’s most recent nuclear tests in 2016 and 2017 came after disclosing other weapons, some experts believe the unveiling of the warhead may be a precursor to a nuclear test.
If Pyongyang does carry out a nuclear test, it will be the first since September 2017, and it’s eighth overall.
Experts from other countries disagree on whether North Korea possesses operational nuclear-armed missiles.
However, Lee Jong-Sup, the defense minister for South Korea, recently stated that he felt the North’s technology to create miniaturized warheads to be installed on sophisticated short-range missiles had evolved significantly.
North Korea may conduct additional missile tests in response to the joint exercises between South Korea, the United States, and Japan because it sees them as a security risk. Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, referred to recent South Korea-U.S. maneuvers that defied North Korea’s “patience and warning” were described as “reckless military provocations.”
Vice Admiral Kim Inho, commander of the South Korean forces participating in the trilateral exercises, made the following statement, which was quoted in the Defense Ministry release: “We’ll forcefully respond to and neutralize any form of provocation by North Korea.”
The three nations will conduct humanitarian search and rescue operations, such as saving individuals who fall into the ocean and treating emergency patients, in addition to anti-submarine training.
According to a statement from the Defense Ministry, it would be the first such training for the three nations in seven years.