US, South Korea, Japan hold missile defense exercise after North launches ICBM

SEOUL, July 16 (Reuters) – The United States, South Korea and Japan held a joint naval missile defense exercise on Sunday to counter evolving nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, China said. South Korean Navy, a few days after the North launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

North Korea fired its latest Hwasong-18 missile, which Pyongyang describes as the heart of its nuclear strike force, off the east coast on Wednesday in what it called a “strong practical warning” to adversaries .

Sunday’s trilateral exercise was conducted in international waters between South Korea and Japan, bringing together destroyers equipped with Aegis radar systems from all three countries, the navy said.

Washington and its Asian allies have worked to improve their system for sharing information on North Korean missiles. South Korea and Japan are independently linked to US radar systems, but not to each other.

The exercise aimed to master the allies’ response to a North Korean ballistic missile launch with a scenario involving a virtual target, the military said.

“We will effectively respond to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats with our military’s robust response system and trilateral cooperation,” a South Korean naval officer said.

The North’s launch of the ICBM has been denounced by the United States, South Korea and Japan, although Pyongyang has rejected the condemnation, saying it was an exercise of its right to freedom. self-defense.

The latest launch follows strong complaints from North Korea in recent days, accusing US spy planes of flying over waters in its exclusive economic zone, condemning a recent visit to South Korea by a US nuclear-launching submarine. cruise missiles and promising to take action in response. (Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by William Mallard)

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