Missile Tracking Exercises Scheduled Amid Nuclear Tension With North Korea

Missile Tracking Exercises Scheduled Amid Nuclear Tension With North Korea

Washington and Seoul staged their biggest-ever joint air drill last week in a show of force against Pyongyang, which is subject to multiple sets of United Nations sanctions over its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

The two-day exercise - the sixth since June a year ago - kicked off in waters near the Korean peninsula and Japan, Seoul's defence ministry said.

On November 29, it test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile which it said was its most advanced yet, capable of reaching the mainland US. The drill will be held in waters near Japan today and tomorrow, Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said as he visited a garrison in northern Japan.

The US and South Korea held large-scale military drills last week that the North said made the outbreak of war "an established fact". The THAAD system has sparked controversy because China opposes it. The system is developed by USA defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

Beijing fears the system's powerful radar can peer deep into Chinese territory, compromising its own security.

China and South Korea are both in agreement about North Korea - dialogue, not war. The Pentagon has mounted repeated shows of force after North Korean tests.

The South condemned the launch and on Monday imposed new unilateral sanctions on its neighbour.

As part of efforts to cut off funding for the North weapons programs, South Korea has added several North Korean groups and individuals to its sanctions list.

"This unilateral sanction will prevent illegal funds flowing to North Korea and contribute to reinforce global communities' sanctions against North Korea", South Korea's finance ministry said in a statement.

North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea, Japan and the U.S. and says its weapons programs are necessary to counter USA aggression.

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