The United States, United Kingdom and South Korea are preparing to launch trilateral drills as Kim Jong Un’s North Korea furthers its nuclear ambitions despite endeavors from the world community to prevent the isolationist state from developing a destructive arsenal.
The first annual Invincible Shield military drill is slated to take place Friday through Nov. 10. The drills, to be carried out of the Osan Air Base in South Korea, will mark the first joint military exercise by the three countries.
The objective behind the exercise is “improving the allies’ capabilities of attacking North Korea’s major military and leadership facilities (if provoked) but also intercepting incoming fighters from the North,” South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency quoted an Air Force spokesman from the country as saying.
While the U.S. already has troops stationed in South Korea under the sub-unified command of the United States Forces Korea (USFK), the U.K. will send out four Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets, a tanker and a cargo aircraft for the joint drill.
As a buildup to the exercise, Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX) — the world’s largest phased-array radar — was sent to the South Korean coast to gather data about the North’s ballistic capabilities.
“[SBX] was sent to an undisclosed location off the Korean Peninsula for a one-month deployment after departing Hawaii in late September,” a South Korean military official told Yonhap News Agency. “It sailed back to its home port in late October.”
Kim Jong Un’s regime has not taken well to the upcoming missiles and referred to them as an “advance preparation for mounting a preemptive attack.”
North Korean daily Rodong Sinmun published a warning earlier last month: “If the aggressors and provocateurs dare mount a preemptive attack on the DPRK, they will not be able to escape a merciless, nuclear retaliatory strike of justice.”
The northern state has repeatedly defied U.N. Security Council resolutions and detonated a small nuclear bomb on Sept. 9. This was a major step forward for North Korea’s nuclear abilities. The country has already test-fired a number of ballistic missiles, which resulted in international sanctions against it. Pyongyang’s limited allies have also condemned the country’s nuclear explosions.