Washington : Top security officials from the United States, Japan, and South Korea in a joint statement said they discussed the regularization of military exercises to deter and respond to North Korea’s missile threats.
Earlier in the day, Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided the first test-fire of the new-type Hwasongpho-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile.
“The three sides discussed the regularization of missile defense exercises and anti-submarine exercises to deter and respond to DPRK’s nuclear and missile threats, and discussed ways to resume trilateral exercises, including maritime interdiction and anti-piracy exercises, in order to maintain peace and stability in the region in a more effective manner,” the statement, released after trilateral defense talks in Washington on Friday, said.
The joint statement was issued by US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner, Japan Director General for Defense Policy Masuda Kazu, and South Korean Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy Heo Tae-keun.
South Korean and US air forces reportedly conducted joint drills involving a nuclear-capable B-52H strategic bomber, following North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch.
The missile was launched toward the Sea of Japan, flying about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and landing outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone on Thursday. The launch prompted the Japanese authorities to issue an evacuation order for the residents of Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, which reportedly led to the temporary suspension of high-speed trains and road transport in the north of the country.
Thursday’s launch came amid a halt in cross-border communication between the two Koreas, a period of silence that began on April 7. This latest firing was the ninth launch of a North Korean missile this year. In 2022, Pyongyang launched 37 ballistic missiles.