October 12, 2017 12:07 am JST

US dials up show of force around Korean Peninsula

Joint drills with South Korea, Japan aim to send warning to North

HIROSHI MINEGISHI, Nikkei staff writer

The USS Ronald Reagan will head toward the Korean Peninsula for joint exercises with the South Korean navy.

SEOUL -- The U.S. is deploying more military hardware around the Korean Peninsula, including bombers and submarines, in a show of force intended to deter North Korea from further provocations.

Two B-1 bombers based in the American territory of Guam participated in joint drills with South Korean and Japanese jets in the area Tuesday night. Seoul said the exercise was conducted as part of a September agreement with Washington on rotational deployment of strategic U.S. military assets.

The U.S. Pacific Command said Tuesday that a nuclear-powered submarine arrived Saturday at an American naval base at the South Korean city of Jinhae. Another submarine, among the largest in the U.S. fleet, reportedly will arrive at the port of Busan this weekend. Both can be armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, used in a strike on Syria this year.

These moves likely aim to counter potential deployment of submarine-launched ballistic missiles being developed by North Korea, as well as show that Washington is prepared to meet provocations by Pyongyang with a forceful response.

The U.S. is flexing its military muscle in other ways as well. A carrier strike group including the USS Ronald Reagan nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is set to arrive near the Korean Peninsula from Hong Kong as early as next week for joint exercises with the South Korean navy. And F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters are to participate in the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition kicking off Oct. 17.

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