U.S. carrier joins South Korea drills, North Korea warns of 'merciless' strikes

By: Japan News via The Washington Post
March 14, 2017 Updated: March 14, 2017 at 10:41 am
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The USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). iStock photo.

TOKYO - Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers and the U.S. military's Carrier Strike Group 1, comprising the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, destroyers, supply and other ships, have been conducting a joint exercise in the East China Sea since Tuesday, according to multiple government sources.

North Korea warned the United States of "merciless" attacks if the carrier infringes on its sovereignty or dignity during U.S.-South Korean drills, according to a report by Reuters.

It is unusual for the U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the MSDF to conduct a joint exercise in that sea.

The move is apparently aimed at demonstrating the strong Japan-U.S. alliance and serving as a check on North Korea, which has repeatedly launched ballistic missiles, and China, which is expanding its maritime activities.

The USS Carl Vinson has conducted patrols in the South China Sea since mid-February, putting strong pressure on China.

On Friday, the aircraft carrier was traveling in the East China Sea toward the sea around South Korea to join a U.S.-South Korea joint military exercise.

The MSDF's destroyers started the joint exercise with the USS Carl Vinson on Tuesday, confirming tactical operations and conducting communication training and other exercises, the sources said.

The joint exercise was to be conducted until Friday, according to the sources.

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