US deploying more advanced weapons in response to North Korea threat
The U.S. and South Korea have agreed to increase the scope and size of live training drills to deter North Korea and American troops will deploy more advanced weapons to its ally on Korean Peninsula.
The two allies will hold a large exercise later this year.
The agreement was forged by South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during a Tuesday meeting in Seoul.
Both Austin and Lee agreed that recent joint military exercises served as an effective deterrence against North Korea and said they would strengthen those military drills.
Before last year, those joint drills had been downgraded because of the pandemic and when former President Trump was negotiating with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The large military exercises have angered Kim and generally provoked responses like missile tests.
On Tuesday, the leaders also “pledged to closely cooperate in order to continue to deploy U.S. strategic assets in a timely and coordinated manner in the future,” according to a readout from the Defense Department.
At a Tuesday news conference, Austin also said to “expect more” advanced weapons deployment in South Korea, including fifth-generation aircraft like the F-35.
Austin said the announcements show “our unwavering commitment to maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula” in the past 70 years.
“As we look toward the next 70 years, we’ll continue working toward our vision of a stable and secure Korean Peninsula,” he said.
North Korea fired a record number of missiles last year, including several intercontinental ballistic missiles that alarmed both South Korea and Japan.
The North Korea last year also sent drones into South Korea for the first time since 2017 and is working to expand its nuclear arsenal. Kim has pushed for an “exponential increase” of the weapons.
The U.S., South Korea and Japan will meet at the earliest opportunity to discuss security measures in the region, according to Tuesday’s readout, and are developing a system for the sharing of missile warning data.
Amid an increasingly dangerous security environment, Japan has also made a historic push to boost its defense budget and switch to a more offensive tack.
President Biden met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House earlier this month to discuss security agreements, among other topics.
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