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(LEAD) U.S. aircraft carrier may be deployed to S. Korea for joint drills next month: source

Defense 10:34 February 24, 2023

(ATTN: RECASTS 3rd para)

SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States are in consultation over the possible deployment of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Korea for allied drills next month, an informed source said Friday.

The move is in tune with the allies' stepped-up efforts to reinforce deterrence following the North's missile provocations, including the launch of a long-range ballistic missile last Saturday.

If agreed, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, a centerpiece of America's naval might, is likely to make a port call in South Korea and take part in maritime drills in connection with the allies' springtime Freedom Shield exercise to begin in the middle of March, according to observers.

The U.S. previously sent the USS Ronald Reagan carrier to the peninsula last year.

Seoul's defense ministry refused to confirm whether the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier will be deployed to Korea anytime soon.

"The deployment of the U.S.' key military assets has proceeded in close consultation between South Korea and the U.S.," it said in a press statement.

During the allies' annual defense ministerial talks in November last year, the two sides agreed to increase the frequency and intensity in the deployment of U.S. strategic assets to the peninsula. Strategic assets usually mean aircraft carriers, strategic bombers and nuclear-powered submarines.

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

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

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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