US, Japan AND South Korea to hold missile tests as North Korea tensions grow
US, Japan AND South Korea to hold missile tests as North Korea tensions grow:- THE United States, Japan and South Korea are to hold missile tracking drills over two days from Monday, as tensions continue to escalate in the region with North Korea continuing its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.
The latest exercise follows on from last week’s large scale military drills, which prompted North Korea to comment the outbreak of war was “an established fact”.
North Korea has filed a number of missiles over Japan as it continues to develop both ballistic and nuclear weapons despite UN sanctions and worldwide condemnation.
On November 29, it test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile which it said was its most advanced yet, capable of reaching the mainland United States.
This week’s exercises will be the sixth drills sharing information in tracking ballistic missiles among the three nations, the Japanese defence force said.
It did not say whether the controversial THAAD system would be involved.
The installation of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in South Korea has angered China, which fears its powerful radar could look deep into China and threaten its own security.
North Korea’s missile test last month prompted a US warning that North Korea’s leadership would be “utterly destroyed” if war were to break out.
The Pentagon has mounted repeated shows of force after North Korean tests.
The US has also pressured China and other nations to cut trade and diplomatic ties with North Korea, as part of international efforts to dry up Pyongyang’s illegal cash flows that could fund its weapons programmes.
On Sunday, South Korea said it would impose new unilateral sanctions on 20 institutions and a dozen individuals in North Korea, barring any financial transactions between those sanctioned and any South Koreans.
South Korea’s finance ministry said in a statement: “This unilateral sanction will prevent illegal funds flowing to North Korea and contribute to reinforce international communities’ sanctions against North Korea.”
The move is largely symbolic as trade and financial exchanges between the two Koreas have been barred since May 2010 following the torpedoing of a South Korean warship, which the North denied.
North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea, Japan and the US and says its weapons programmes are necessary to counter what it claims is US aggression.
The US has 28,500 troops stationed in the South, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.
North Korea has been hit by earthquakes which were aftershocks from leader Kim Jong-un’s nuclear blast in September, according to a US Geological Survey official.
The tremors were recorded close to North Korea’s Punggye-Ri nuclear test site in the north-west of the country, close to the border with China.
The USGS official explained: “They’re probably relaxation events from the sixth nuclear test.
“When you have a large nuclear test, it moves the earth’s crust around the area, and it takes a while for it to fully subside.
“We’ve had a few of them since the sixth nuclear test.”