SEOUL – South Korea and the United States started large-scale military maneuvers on Saturday off the Korean peninsula in which three US aircraft carriers were taking part.
The nuclear-powered carriers USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt are taking part in the exercises, which will continue until Tuesday in the Sea of Japan, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
The maneuvers are the first in 10 years in which three aircraft carriers have been involved.
The JCS said in a statement that the exercise was seeking to strengthen and expand the dissuasive strategy to prevent Pyongyang from carrying out further provocations in the form of arms tests.
The exercises come after the US and South Korea in their recent annual meeting on defensive policy agreed to expand the rotational deployment of strategic US military assets such as aircraft carriers, submarines and bombers to the peninsula.
During his visit to South Korea on his ongoing Asian tour, US President Donald Trump strongly criticized Pyongyang and twice referred to the deployment of the three aircraft carriers in the region.
Trump’s rhetoric combined with repeated weapons tests by North Korea have increased tensions to some of the highest levels seen since the Korean War of 1950-1953.