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(3rd LD) USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier returns to East Sea after N. Korea's IRBM launch

Defense 22:48 October 05, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with UNSC meeting in last 2 paras)

SEOUL, Oct. 5 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. aircraft carrier returned to the waters east of South Korea on Wednesday to join a trilateral exercise with South Korea and Japan, Seoul officials said, in a show of force following North Korea's ballistic missile launch earlier this week.

The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier left the waters last week after it engaged in a bilateral naval exercise with South Korea and then a trilateral one also involving Japan.

Its redeployment came after Pyongyang fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan on Tuesday, its first IRBM launch in eight months.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the redeployment of a carrier strike group is "very rare" and it demonstrates the "resolve of the South Korea-U.S. alliance to respond sternly to any North Korean provocations and threats."

This photo, taken on Sept. 26, 2022, shows the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier leaving a naval base in South Korea's southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)

This photo, taken on Sept. 26, 2022, shows the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier leaving a naval base in South Korea's southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)

On Thursday, USS Ronald Reagan is expected to join trilateral drills on detecting and tracking virtual ballistic missiles, according to an informed source.

The deployment of the carrier, a centerpiece of America's naval might, came after Presidents Yoon Suk-yeol and Joe Biden reaffirmed their commitment to deploy U.S. strategic assets in a "timely and coordinated manner as necessary" during their summit in Seoul in May.

Meanwhile, JCS Chairman Gen. Kim Seung-kyum met with Adm. John C. Aquilino, the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, in Seoul to discuss the North's nuclear and missile threats and bilateral security cooperation.

They emphasized the North must realize its provocations will further strengthen the bilateral alliance and enhance the execution power of America's extended deterrence, its commitment to use a full range of military capabilities to defend the South, according to the JCS.

Kim called for the U.S. command's support to ensure the swift deployment of U.S. strategic assets to the peninsula if needed.

Aquilino said the alliance is the "linchpin of regional peace and prosperity," the JCS said.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) is set to convene a public meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday (local time) to discuss the North's IRBM launch, according to a Seoul official. South Korea will also join the session as a direct party concerned with the issue.

"We are in close consultation with UNSC member countries as well as key friendly nations to ensure that the international community will send a grave message regarding the North's repeated violations of UNSC resolutions," the official said on condition of anonymity.




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