The US-South Korea combined open-air exercise near the Japanese island of Okinawa ended three days later.
The exercise came as North Korean actions raised speculation that Pyongyang might conduct another nuclear test. The three-day exercise, which began Thursday in international waters off the Japanese island of Okinawa, is the first joint exercise by the United States and its allies in East Asia involving a US aircraft carrier since November 2017.
The exercise came weeks after South Korean President Joe Biden and South Korean President Joe-suk-yul pledged at a meeting in Seoul to upgrade joint military exercises. The two presidents also discussed ways to increase measures to protect Washington from South Korea in the face of growing North Korean threats.
Ronald Reagan’s 2,000-ton nuclear aircraft carrier, the Antitum guided missile warship, the Benfold destroyer equipped with a ballistic missile defense system, and the Bighorn ship participated in the exercise. On the other hand, a ship and two destroyers from South Korea participated in the exercise.
The US Navy’s 7th Fleet said the exercise was aimed at strengthening interoperability between the two countries’ navies.
On Friday, Biden’s special envoy to North Korea, Sung Kim, announced that Washington was preparing for all possible scenarios in close coordination with South Korea and Japan. Kim, who traveled to Seoul for a trilateral meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the North Korean nuclear stalemate, also stressed that Washington was evaluating North Korea’s actions in the northeastern city of Pong Rye. What many believe is preparation for a new nuclear test.
In the Donald Trump administration, there were talks at the leadership level between North Korea and the United States, but in the end, after several rounds of meetings and taking souvenir photos of Trump and Kim, virtually none of the North Korean sanctions were lifted. It was then that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un resumed his country’s stalled nuclear activities and, in recent months, has conducted numerous missile tests to develop its weapons program. The country has conducted 17 missile tests this year, raising concerns about the prospect of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.