The arrival marks the most significant deployment as the United States is pushing for more nuclear-capable ‘assets’ to deter North Korea.
Nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan arrived in South Korea ahead of joint drills seen as a show of strength amid growing threats from North Korea.
The Ronald Reagan and its accompanying assault force ships docked at a naval base in the southern port city of Busan on Friday.
The appearance marks Washington’s most significant deployment in a new effort to have more US nuclear-capable “strategic assets” operating in the region to North Korea deterrence.
The joint exercises in the coming days will be the first time a US aircraft carrier has been involved in the region since 2017, when the US sent three aircraft carriers including the Reagan to participate in the naval exercise. with Korea. in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests at that time.
North Korea denounces previous US military deployments and joint exercises as rehearsals for war and evidence of the hostile policies of Washington and Seoul.
Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, said that the stated mission of the joint exercises was to demonstrate the “determination of these allies in the face of new threats”. of North Korea”.
“This is a way of showing the strength of the alliance in the face of what the US and South Korea see as growing threats from North Korea. From North Korea’s perspective, they’ve always been outraged by these drills,” McBride said.
Joint exercises have been reduced in recent years to allow “summit diplomacy to take place to try to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons,” he said.
“Obviously, they didn’t do that,” he added.
McBride said North Korea would likely see the drills as a justification for “their position that they need to hold onto their precious nuclear weapons at all costs as a guarantee of their survival.” their existence in what they see as a hostile world”.
The South Korean Navy said Friday that the joint training with the Reagan Task Force is aimed at enhancing the allies’ military readiness and demonstrating the “firm determination of the ROK-US alliance for peace and harmony.” peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula”.
With North Korea resumption of major weapons testsSeoul and Washington have revived large-scale military exercises that were cut or canceled in previous years to aid diplomatic efforts with Pyongyang or because of COVID-19.
The threat from North Korea is also expected to be a key agenda item when US Vice President Kamala Harris visits South Korea next week after attending a state funeral in Tokyo after the former Japanese prime minister. Shinzo Abe is killed.
It was a great day to #FlyNavy! ️🌊 @United States Navywas the only aircraft carrier deployed forward, engaged in routine flight operations while in #PhilippineSea. # Battleship76#FreeandOpenIndoPacific #PresenceMatters pic.twitter.com/BlfJ0ud5aj
– The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (@Gipper_76) September 22, 2022
The carrier’s arrival in South Korea comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told Pyongyang’s National Assembly this month that he would never give up the nuclear weapons and missiles he needs to fight the what he considers US hostility towards North Korea.
North Korea also passed a new law honor its status as a nuclear power and authorize the pre-use of nuclear weapons in a range of situations where the state or its leadership is threatened.
Sung Kim, the Biden administration’s special representative for North Korea, met his South Korean counterpart Kim Gunn in Seoul on Thursday, where they expressed “serious concerns” about North Korea’s escalating nuclear doctrine introduced in the new law, South Korea’s foreign ministry said.
Diplomats reaffirming the US commitment to the defense of South Korea in the event of a nuclear war with its full military capabilities, including nuclear.
The allies also maintained their assessment months ago that North Korea was preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017 and discussed “severe” countermeasures to such action, the ministry said. said.
North Korea has ramped up weapons testing at a record rate by 2022, launching more than 30 ballistic weapons including intercontinental ballistic missiles as it exploits divisions in the United Nations Security Council. deeper into Russia’s war with Ukraine.