(JustPatriots.com)- The US and South Korea held a joint air drill last Sunday, just one day after North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, Reuters reported.
In a statement on Sunday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the drill, in which South Korean stealth fighters and jets as well as US F-16s escorted American B-1B bombers, demonstrated the “overwhelming” defense posture and capabilities of the United States and South Korea.
Additionally, Japan’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that its F-15s flew over the Sea of Japan along with American B-1 bombers and F-16 jets during a technical exercise, according to Reuters.
Both preplanned exercises occurred just one day after North Korea fired a long-range ballistic missile from Pyongyang into the Sea of Japan about 150 miles west of Oshima Island in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida responded to last Saturday’s missile launch which he called “an outrageous act,” saying Japan had “launched a very staunch protest.”
On Sunday, the North Korean state news agency KCNA confirmed the missile launch, saying the order had been given by Kim Jong-un.
Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong said in a statement that the missile was not aimed at South Korea since North Korea had no intention “to stand face to face with them,” KCNA reported. She added that the United States must “stop all actions” that pose a threat to the security of North Korea, warning that the North would counter any US hostility.
After Saturday’s missile launch by Pyongyang, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated that Washington remained prepared to negotiate with Pyongyang “without any preconditions.” At the same time, Blinken said that the United States’ commitment to the security of Japan and South Korea “is ironclad.”
Pyongyang insists that its missile tests serve as a warning to the increasing presence of the United States in the region. However, NBC News reported that some experts fear that North Korea is also using the launches to test new weapons and strengthen its nuclear capability while increasing its leverage in any future negotiations with the United States and South Korea.