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(LEAD) USS submarine set to join USS Carl Vinson in drills near S. Korea

All Headlines 22:40 April 24, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS North Korea's response in paras 5-6)

SEOUL, April 24 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. submarine is set to join the USS Carl Vinson in drills near the Korean Peninsula, South Korean military officials said Monday.

"The nuclear-powered submarine USS Michigan will enter the waters off the peninsula soon or later to jointly conduct drills with the USS Carl Vinson," a military official told Yonhap News Agency.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is expected to arrive in the East Sea later in the week amid growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.

As the U.S. has directed the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and submarine at the same time for joint drills near South Korea, it is interpreted as a stern warning against any provocations by the North.

North Korea called the move "undisguised military blackmail" against the DPRK and a dangerous action that plunges the peninsula into a "touch-and-go situation." DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"If the enemies recklessly provoke the DPRK, its revolutionary armed forces will promptly give deadly blows to them and counter any total war with all-out war and nuclear war with a merciless nuclear strike of Korean style," the North's ruling party newspaper Rodong Shinmun said Monday.

Security experts have expressed concerns that Pyongyang may conduct its sixth nuclear test or test-fire an inter-continental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland ahead of a key anniversary on Tuesday.

North Korea said Monday its "precise and advanced" nuclear weapons capable of striking U.S. military bases in Asia-Pacific areas and the U.S. homeland are fully prepared to be fired from launchers on the eve of the anniversary of the foundation of North Korea's military.

USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier (Yonhap)


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