North Korea is believed to be preparing to launch another ballistic missile in retaliation for an upcoming joint naval drill by the US and South Korea, it emerged today..
The US Navy said on Friday that the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier will lead the drill in the coming week, as another show of force against Dictator Kim Jong-un’s ongoing nuclear and weapons programme.
A riled Pyongyang immediately renewed its threat to fire missiles at the US Pacific territory of Guam, warning that “reckless moves” by the US would compel it to take action.
North Korea first threatened Guam in August after US President Donald Trump warned the pariah regime would “face fire and fury like the world has never seen”. Kim backed down temporarily but said he would watch for US provocation. Tensions have only escalated since.
A fresh missile test may also be on the cards. The Donga Ilbo daily, citing a government source, reported on Saturday that satellite images showed ballistic missiles mounted on launchers being transported out of hangars near Pyongyang and in the North Pyongan Province.
Speculation is now rising that the deployment of the US carrier strike group and nuclear-powered submarine to the Korean Peninsula may provide a fresh trigger for action.
The USS Ronald Reagan will conduct the ten-day joint drills in waters east and west of South Korea. Starting on Monday, the exercise will check the allies “communications interoperability and partnership,” the US Navy’s 7th fleet said in a statement.
As many as 40 navy vessels, including the Aegis destroyer and attack helicopters will be deployed.
Meanwhile, the USS Michigan, an 18,000-metric ton submarine, which arrived in the South Korean port of Busan on Friday, is also expected to join the exercise.
Although Washington and Seoul insist that regular joint drills are defensive in nature, North Korea considers them to be rehearsals for invasion and has lashed out with weapons tests in the past.
The deployment comes at a time of heightened tension between the US and North Korea, with both President Trump and Kim Jong-un trading regular insults.
Source: News agencies