Military showdown off North Korean shores

The US, Japan and South Korea sent a pointed message to North Korea on Tuesday, dispatching high-tech missile defense ships to the same area where Pyongyang fired four missiles just eight days ago.

Aegis warships from the US, South Korea and Japan began exercises Tuesday to improve their capability to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles, the US Navy said in a statement.

China’s Foreign Ministry reacted sternly Tuesday afternoon, calling on all sides to end “a vicious cycle that could spiral out of control. … North Korea has violated UN Security Council resolutions banning its ballistic missile launches; on the other hand, South Korea, the US — and now Japan — insist on conducting super-large-scale military drills,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

In response, Pyongyang accused the US of preparing a “preemptive strike”, according to North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, KCNA. “If they infringe on our sovereignty and dignity even a bit, our army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater,” read the statement.

The US has also declared it will permanently station missile-capable drones in South Korea. The US military in South Korea took the unusual step of publicly announcing the deployment of a company of Grey Eagle drones, the army’s enhanced version of the Predator drone, designed to carry Hellfire missiles. Together with the deployment of THAAD anti-ballistic missile defenses in South Korea, they represent a significant build-up of US military muscle in response to an accelerated program of missile and nuclear testing by the North Korean regime.

[CNN / The Guardian]

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