The United States has informed South Korea it will send strategic assets to a joint military exercise next month in the wake of last weekend’s North Korean ballistic missile test.
The North said the medium-range ballistic missile it tested Sunday was capable of carrying a nuclear payload.
The Yonhap News Agency reported Tuesday the U.S. planned to send F-22 stealth fighters and a nuclear powered submarine for the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises.
"We are in talks with the U.S. to determine the size of U.S. strategic assets to be deployed and the range of their exposure to local media," the Ministry of National Defense said in a report to lawmakers, adding the “biggest-ever” joint exercise will show the North that the South and its allies are ready to combat Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threats.
The KCNA news agency reported the North successfully test-fired a Pukguksong-2 solid-fuel ballistic missile, which traveled 300 miles before splashing down in international waters in the Sea of Japan. The missile test coincided with Japanese President Shinzo Abe’s visit to the United States and prompted a pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump to stand with allies against the Hermit Kingdom.
The deployment of strategic assets could be the “strong signal” White House policy adviser Stephen Miller said the U.S. would send in response to North Korea’s actions.
"[The missile launch] is not only an explicit and clear violation of related [U.N. Security Council] resolutions but also a grave threat to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the international community as a whole," Seoul's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Defense officials from South Korea, the U.S. and Japan held an hourlong video conference early Monday to discuss the situation and condemned Sunday’s launch as a clear violation of U.N. resolutions banning such tests.
The North has refused to end its nuclear program in exchange for economic aid and an easing of sanctions, which have strangled its economy.
In addition to missile tests, Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test in September, its fifth since 2006. It is believed the bomb tested in September had a yield of 10 kilotons to 30 kilotons, but it is unclear whether the North is testing hydrogen bombs and whether it is using plutonium or uranium, the BBC reported.