US, S Korea stage exercise despite North’s nuclear threat

After North Korea threatens to wipe out its enemies US and South Korea launch largest assault drill in last eight weeks

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Navy amphibious assault ships USS Bonhomme Richard, bottom, and USS Boxer, second from top, are underway with the Republic of Korea Navy Dokdo Amphibious Ready Group in the East Sea during exercise Ssang Yong 2016 on March 8, 2016.

Updated Mar 13, 2016

US and South Korea on Sunday stormed a stimulated North Korean beach in a joint amphibious landing exercise as tension remains high in the region following North Korean missile tests.

The latest exercise was the largest in eight weeks of joint exercises to prepare for a rapid reaction against a possible nuclear attack from the isolated country.  

South Korea's Defence Ministry spokesman said the exercise was of "the largest scale ever," involving 300,000 South Korean troops and at least 17,000 US troops.

According to the US navy nearly 55 US marine aircraft and 30 US and South Korean ships, including the USS Bonhomme Richard and USS Boxer, which carry AV-8B Harrier attack jets and V-22 Osprey aircrafts joined Sunday’s exercise which took place near Phong city.  

"They will penetrate notional enemy beach defenses, establish a beachhead, and rapidly transition forces and sustainment ashore," the US military forces based in South Korea said in a statement before the exercise.

North Korea described the exercises as "nuclear war moves," adding that it will respond "with an ultra-precision blitzkrieg strike of the Korean style."

"The revolutionary armed forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [DPRK] holding tightly the arms to annihilate the enemies with towering hatred for them are waiting for the dignified Supreme Command to issue an order to launch a preemptive strike of justice," it said.

Reports said on Saturday that a North Korean submarine which was reportedly operating off the North Korean coast went missing however the US declined to comment on the issue and the South said investigations are continuing.  

Tensions rose in the region after North Korea claimed that it is developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles, releasing photos allegedly showing its progress. However these claims have been placed in doubt after photography experts said the photos appear to be fake.  

On Thursday North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea. Pyongyang also said it developed newly large caliber rocket launchers this month.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered his country to enhance its nuclear attack capability after a UN Security Council resolution was adopted last week in response to the isolated state's latest nuclear tests.

TRTWorld and agencies