Published: Mon, December 11, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

US, S. Korea, Japan start missile-tracking drill

US, S. Korea, Japan start missile-tracking drill

The United States, Japan and South Korea will hold two days of missile tracking drill starting today, Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force said, as tensions rise in the region over North Korea's weapons programmes.

The exercise will be aimed at "practising tracking an object and sharing information on it among the three countries", said a defense official who declined to be identified.

The joint exercise comes amid growing tensions as North Korea advances its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

Beijing fears the system's powerful radar can peer deep into Chinese territory, compromising its own security.

The trilateral defence exercises are the sixth of their kind since 2016, and come after South Korea and the United States held the annual bilateral Vigilant ACE drills, which ended last week.

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Tension flared anew in the flashpoint peninsula after the November 29 launch of the Hwasong-15 ICBM, which the North claimed could deliver a "super-large heavy warhead" anywhere on the U.S. mainland.

"Right now, our military faces a very serious situation where North Korea's nuclear and missile threats are fast becoming more real and advanced".

South Korea also announced Sunday that it would impose new sanctions on 20 institutions and a dozen individuals in North Korea, barring any financial transactions between those sanctioned and South Koreans.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a meeting on Friday with the country's top military officers and called on them to boost national defense capabilities to deter North Korea. "No one in the world - me, Prime Minister Abe, President Trump or Defence Secretary Mattis - is hoping to have conflicts".

North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea, Japan and the United States and says its weapons programs are necessary to counter USA aggression.

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