The US aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and its strike group began joint exercises in South Korean waters on Monday as Washington and Seoul continue to dramatically expand their military cooperation.
A few hours before the drills began, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, likely as a response to the new military exercises between the US and South Korea.
The Nimitz and the three other ships that are part of its strike group are expected to arrive in the South Korean port of Busan on Tuesday. The US began sending aircraft carriers to the Korean peninsula again in the fall of 2022 after a four-year lull of such deployments.
“The United States has deployable strategic assets at the ready on every day,” said Rear Adm. Christopher Sweeney, commander of Carrier Strike Group Eleven, according to The Associated Press. “We can continue to deploy those assets and we will.”
The US and South Korea announced earlier this year that they would expand joint military exercises and that Washington would deploy more strategic assets to the region, including bombers. The war games ensure tensions will remain high on the peninsula as they will continue to provoke more North Korean weapons tests.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry announced last week that Washington and Seoul will hold their “largest-ever” live-fire exercises this June. The US and South Korea have conducted massive combined live-fire drills less than 10 times in the past, including most recently in 2017.