US B-1B strategic bombers in drills with South Korea on same day as North Korean missile launch | CNN

Tokyo, Japan

US strategic bombers took part in joint air exercises with South Korean forces on Sunday, the same day that North Korea tested a suspected ballistic missile, according to the South Korean military.

The exercise involved US B-1B strategic bombers, South Korean Air Force F-35A stealth fighters and US Air Force F-16 fighters, and was part of the Freedom Shield joint exercise, the military said in a press release.

News of the exercise came on the same day that North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan shortly after 11 a.m. local time, according to Japan’s defense ministry and South Korea’s military.

However, South Korea’s defense ministry would not confirm whether the aerial training exercise with US bombers took place before or after the missile launch.

“The South Korea-US alliance maintains the best joint defense posture in the context of North Korea’s continued regional instability,” the South Korean military said in its press release.

“Moving forward, we will realize ‘peace through strength’ and enhance America’s extended deterrence credibility based on solid coalition capabilities and posture,” he added.

The suspected ballistic missile fired by North Korea on Sunday reached a maximum altitude of about 50 kilometers (31 miles) and traveled about 800 kilometers (497 miles), according to Japan’s defense ministry. According to South Korea’s military, it was fired from the Dongchang-ri area of ​​North Pyongan province in North Korea and fell into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

After the missile fell, the Japan Coast Guard warned all ships to wait for more information. Do not go near fallen objects; and reporting anything suspicious.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the military had strengthened surveillance and vigilance in preparation for additional launches while “maintaining a position of full readiness through close cooperation with the United States.”

North Korea often responds to what it sees as “provocations” by the United States and threatens war. Its leader, Kim Jong-un, has accused the US and South Korea of ​​increasing tensions with their joint military exercises.

The latest launch is as follows a A wave of missile tests from North Korea, including a long-range ballistic missile Thursday As the leaders of South Korea and Japan meet in Tokyo, and the firing of two cruise missiles Days earlier, a submarine and two short-range ballistic missiles.

The Japanese and South Korean governments strongly condemned Sunday’s missile test, which they said was a “flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

Japan’s defense ministry said in a statement that Pyongyang’s repeated barrages “threaten the peace and security of Japan, the region and the international community.”

The United States and South Korea hold joint military exercises in the spring. The greatest war game Allies have staged in five years.

Ahead of the 11-day Freedom Shield drills, North Korea threatened to “take the strongest countermeasures against the evil machinations of the United States and its allies.”

On Saturday, North Korea claimed that nearly 800,000 of its citizens had volunteered to join or rejoin the country’s military to fight against the United States.

Official newspaper Rodong Sunmun reported. On Saturday, nearly 800,000 students and activists across the country expressed their willingness to enlist or re-enlist in the military to fight the U.S. on Friday alone.

Experts say that in addition to this week’s joint military drills and meeting between South Korean President Yoon Seok-yul and Japanese leader Fumio Kishida, Pyongyang is planning to visit U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House next month with Yoon and his wife. has rejected the plan to host .

The official visit will be the second in Joe Biden’s presidency, highlighting the close ties between the US and South Korea, and will take place on April 26. Biden, likewise, has sought to nurture the relationship, including with a symbolic visit to Seoul in May 2022, his first stop on his inaugural trip to Asia as president.

Leif Eric Easley, a professor at Eva Women’s University in Seoul, told CNN recently that in response to the drills and summit, Pyongyang “could try to fire long-range missiles, try to launch a spy satellite, demonstrate a solid-fuel engine.” Yes, and maybe even do a nuclear test.

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