North Korea Test Missiles

The USS Nimitz, a US aircraft carrier, has begun joint exercises with South Korean warships as tensions between North Korea and the United States continue to escalate. North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles in response to the expanding drills, marking the seventh missile test this month.

The USS Nimitz strike group, which includes a guided missile cruiser and two destroyers, arrived at the South Korean mainland port of Busan on Tuesday. According to a South Korean navy spokesperson, Jang Do Young, the drills are aimed at sharpening joint operational capabilities and demonstrating the US commitment to defend its ally with the full range of options, including nuclear, in the face of North Korea’s “escalating nuclear and missile threats”.

North Korea has launched more than 20 ballistic and cruise missiles on 11 occasions this year in an attempt to force the US to accept its nuclear status and negotiate a removal of sanctions from a position of strength. The weapons tested this month included an intercontinental ballistic missile and a series of short-range missiles intended to overwhelm South Korean defenses.

In addition to its missile tests, North Korea also claims to have a purported nuclear-capable underwater drone that it says can set off a huge “radioactive tsunami”. The situation on the Korean peninsula remains tense as both North Korea’s weapons tests and the US-South Korea joint military exercises have increased in a cycle of retaliation.

The joint exercises come as the US and South Korea prepare for talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. The Biden administration has expressed a willingness to engage with North Korea, but has also maintained that it will not ease sanctions until North Korea takes concrete steps towards denuclearization.

The US and South Korea have been conducting military drills in the region for decades, but these exercises have become a point of contention with North Korea in recent years. North Korea sees them as a provocation and has called for their suspension, while the US and South Korea view them as necessary for maintaining readiness and deterring aggression.

The situation on the Korean peninsula remains a source of concern for the international community, with the potential for miscalculation or misunderstanding leading to a dangerous escalation of tensions.