South Korea and the United States have launched a major naval exercise in the tense Yellow Sea, a spokesman says.
The three-day drill will involve 10 South Korean warships plus the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, 8,000 personnel and hundreds of combat aircraft, the defence ministry said on Saturday.
The joint naval drill, which comes amid high tensions on the peninsula, is conducted every year, alternatively in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea.
The drill coincides with the 62nd anniversary of the Korean War on Monday.
“The naval exercise started as scheduled today,” the defence ministry spokesman said.
On Friday, South Korean and US troops held their biggest single-day joint live-fire exercise to test responses to any North Korean attack.
The drill at Pocheon near the North Korean border involved 2,000 troops along with jet fighters, tanks, Apache attack helicopters, A-10 “tank-killer” aircraft, missiles and rocket launchers, the defence ministry said.
On Thursday and Friday, the US, South Korea and Japan carried out a separate drill off the southern South Korean island of Jeju, involving destroyers, supply ships and helicopters. North Korea denounced it as a “reckless provocation”.
Tensions are high after the North’s failed rocket launch in April, seen by the US and its allies as an attempted ballistic missile test.
“Throughout the joint military exercises, South Korean and US forces will test their ability for joint operations and enhance combat-readiness,” Navy Brigadier General Park Seong-Bae said in a statement on Friday.
“We will immediately retaliate against any attacks from North Korea and finish the enemy off on the spot.”