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South Korea, Japan, US start joint missile detection exercises

IANS | Seoul |

South Korea, Japan and the US have begun joint missile detection exercises amid escalating regional tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Monday.

The drill, which will last two days, is taking place off the Korean peninsula, and comes after Pyongyang fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on November 28 that it claimed could strike anywhere in the US.

The three countries are testing their abilities to detect and track North Korean missiles and share information, Efe news reported.

The drills will feature several destroyers equipped with the Aegis radar system.

The trilateral defence exercises are the sixth of their kind since 2016, and come after South Korea and the US held the annual bilateral Vigilant ACE drills, which ended last week.

Pyongyang claims that the latest ICBM, called the Hwasong-15, is the regime’s most powerful to date.

It was the latest in a series of nuclear weapons tests North Korea has conducted in 2017, leading to repeated UN sanctions and threats of destruction from US President Donald Trump.

Trump in August promised to respond to Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions with “fire and fury like the world has never seen”.