MOSCOW, May 13 (RIA Novosti) - South Korea and the United States started on Monday two-day joint naval exercises off the east coast involving a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, South Korean media reported.
Earlier in the day, the 97,000-ton USS Nimitz (CVN 68) left the southeastern port of Busan for the drills with South Korea's navy in the East Sea near Pohang, the Yonhap news agency quoted a senior military official as saying.
The Nimitz Strike Group consists of the USS Nimitz, guided-missile cruisers and destroyers. South Korea mobilized the Aegis-equipped destroyer King Sejong and the DDH-II class destroyer Chungmugong Yi Sunshin for the war game.
Military officials said the two countries’ Aegis destroyers would carry out missile detection, anti-submarine and anti-aircraft maneuvers.
Despite Seoul and Washington saying the maneuvers are defensive, Pyongyang has condemned the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier’s arrival, Yonhap said.
North Korea’s Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea over the weekend called the arrival “an open threat and blackmail against the DPRK [North Korea’s official name], and a grave military provocation to unleash a nuclear war against it at any cost on the Korean Peninsula.”
Tensions have risen sharply on the Korean Peninsula since December, when North Korea tested a long-range Taepodong 2 missile, followed in February by its third nuclear test.
After the start of the recent Foal Eagle joint exercises, North Korea threatened to carry out a nuclear attack on the US mainland and on US forces in the region, and later denied entry to South Korean workers to the jointly run Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea, prompting South Korea to withdraw its remaining workers from the site.