(FreedomBeacon.com)- As tensions with North Korea rise, a US aircraft carrier and its convoy have begun conducting joint military drills with South Korean forces.
The nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier joined the drills, which got underway on Monday off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, just one day after North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test.
The four-day training is scheduled to coincide with US Vice President Kamala Harris’s trip to Seoul later this week.
According to US Rear Admiral Buzz Donnelly, the Ronald Reagan Strike Group commanding officer, the visit is of strategic importance to the US and Republic of Korea relationship and is a clear and unmistakable expression of US commitment to the Alliance.
According to the South Korean military, the exercises are intended to show the allies’ “strong will to respond to North Korean provocations” and strengthen their capacity to conduct cooperative naval operations.
It is the first joint military exercise between the US and South Korea since 2017 to utilize a US aircraft carrier.
Pyongyang has denounced previous US military deployments and joint exercises as evidence of hostile policies by Washington and Seoul.
With the launch of dozens of ballistic rockets, including the first intercontinental ballistic missile in five years, North Korea has completed a record number of weapons tests this year.
According to estimations from South Korea, the missiles fired on Sunday traveled 600 kilometers (370 miles) before crashing into the waters off the east coast of North Korea.
North Korea approved legislation earlier this month authorizing it to launch a nuclear attack as a kind of preventative defense and stating that it is “irreversible” to have nuclear weapons.
In response, the governments of the US and South Korea issued a joint statement expressing worry about what they described as North Korea’s “escalatory and destabilizing propaganda connected to nuclear weapons use.”
The US and South Korea have reaffirmed their “ironclad and unwavering commitment” to provide extended deterrence for the Republic of Korea/South Korea, according to a joint statement released by the two countries. The United States will continue to draw upon its full range of military capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, and missile defense.