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US Carrier,S. Korea Ships Launch Drills09/26 07:04

   A U.S. aircraft carrier and its battle group launched drills with South 
Korean warships off the Korean Peninsula's east coast on Monday in their first 
such training in five years, a day after North Korea test-fired a short-range 
ballistic missile in a possible response to the exercise.

   SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- A U.S. aircraft carrier and its battle group 
launched drills with South Korean warships off the Korean Peninsula's east 
coast on Monday in their first such training in five years, a day after North 
Korea test-fired a short-range ballistic missile in a possible response to the 
exercise.

   North Korea could conduct more tests in coming days as it views U.S.-South 
Korean military exercises as practice for an invasion and often reacts with 
displays of weapons designed to attack its rivals.

   The four days of drills are aimed at demonstrating the allies' "powerful 
resolve to respond to North Korean provocations" and improving their ability to 
perform joint naval operations, the South Korean navy said in a statement.

   More than 20 U.S. and South Korean navy ships, including the nuclear-powered 
aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, a U.S. cruiser and South Korean and U.S. 
destroyers, were mobilized for the drills, according to the navy statement. It 
said U.S. and South Korean fighter jets and helicopters will also take part in 
the training.

   It would be the first such joint drills involving a U.S. aircraft carrier 
near the peninsula since 2017, when the U.S. sent three aircraft carriers 
including the Reagan for naval drills with South Korea in response to North 
Korean nuclear and missile tests. The allies had since cancelled or downsized 
some of their regular drills to support now-dormant talks on North Korea's 
nuclear program or guard against COVID-19.

   The North Korean missile fired on Sunday flew about 600 kilometers (370 
miles) at the maximum altitude of 60 kilometers (37 miles) before falling into 
the waters off the North's east coast, according to South Korean estimates. 
Some experts say North Korea might have launched a nuclear-capable, highly 
maneuverable ballistic missile and that its 600 kilometer-flight had enough 
range to strike a southeastern South Korean port where the Reagan was 
previously docked.

   North Korea has performed a record number of missile tests this year as it 
steadfastly rebuffs U.S. and South Korean calls to resume the nuclear 
diplomacy. North Korea has said it won't return to talks unless the United 
States drops its hostile policies in an apparent reference to U.S.-South Korean 
military drills and U.S.-led economic sanctions on it.

   Earlier this month, North Korea adopted a new law that authorized the 
preemptive use of nuclear weapons in some situations, a development that showed 
its increasingly aggressive nuclear doctrine. Some analysts say North Korea 
would eventually aim for arms control negotiations with the United States to 
get sanctions relief and other concessions in return for a partial surrender of 
its nuclear capability.

 
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