US, South Korea begin joint naval exercises

July 25th, 2010 - 2:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Seoul, July 25 (DPA) A US aircraft carrier led joint military exercises with South Korea Sunday as a show of force against North Korea, which they accuse of sinking a navy ship in March.
The USS George Washington, several guided-missile destroyers from both navies and more than 200 aircraft were enlisted for the four days of manoeuvres that include 8,000 personnel from the two allies.

“Some ships from the US 7th Fleet, including a nuclear-powered submarine, are set to join them in the East Sea,” an official told Yonhap news agency on the condition of anonymity.

Planned drills included artillery, anti-submarine charges and air-to-air refuelling, an official at the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

“As an exercise to prevent attacks like the sinking of the Cheonan, we will drop sea mines and anti-submarine bombs during Tuesday’s drill,” the official said.

A Seoul-led investigation concluded in May that a torpedo from the North had sunk the Cheonan warship in the Yellow Sea March 26. Forty-six sailors were killed.

On Saturday, Pyongyang threatened to start “a retaliatory sacred war” in response to the drills.

“The more desperately the US imperialists brandish their nukes and the more zealously their lackeys follow them, the more rapidly the DPRK’s nuclear deterrence will be bolstered up along the orbit of self-defence,” the North’s National Defence Commission said.

The joint exercises, formally announced Wednesday while US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates were in Seoul, are meant to deter North Korea’s “aggressive” behaviour, officials said.

The US Navy is capable of defending itself and “clearly it would be very unwise for North Korea to challenge these forces”, a US State Department spokesman said.

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