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Japan, US conduct joint naval drill off Korean peninsula
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) June 1, 2017

A pair of US aircraft carriers and Japanese naval vessels conducted a joint drill in waters off the Korean peninsula Thursday, in an apparent show of force days after the latest North Korean ballistic missile test.

The strike groups of USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan joined Japanese destroyers Hyuga and Ashigara for the exercise in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), where Monday's missile landed.

The drills came as Washington and Tokyo step up their rhetoric with an eye to stopping North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes.

Pyongyang has now conducted a dozen ballistic missile tests this year, in defiance of UN sanctions warnings and amid fears that it may be preparing for another nuclear test.

The US-Japan drill on Thursday comes shortly after the Pentagon tested an interceptor system to strike down a dummy ballistic missile.

Last month, naval exercises were conducted in the same waters with the USS Carl Vinson and South Korean and Japanese aircraft taking part.

Washington described Thursday's drill as "routine training".

"The Ronald Reagan and Carl Vinson Strike Groups were joined by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF) for routine training to improve interoperability and readiness in the Indo-Asia Pacific," the US Seventh Fleet said on its Facebook page.

Japanese military officials declined to comment on the drill.

The United States has led the efforts to bring further sanctions to punish the North and is urging China, Pyongyang's main sponsor, to play a greater role in applying pressure on the unpredictable regime of Kim Jong-un.

US President Donald Trump has said Monday's missile test showed "disrespect" for China, while Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe vowed that the "North Korean problem is the international community's top priority".

Along with South Korea, Japan is the most directly threatened by Pyongyang's provocations -- Monday's test was the second time this year that a North Korean missile has fallen close to its shores.

US proposes new N. Korea sanctions at UN
United Nations, United States (AFP) June 1, 2017 - The United States presented a draft UN Security Council resolution Thursday that would impose new sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, diplomats said.

The text -- drafted in agreement with China, traditionally Pyongyang's sole diplomatic and military ally -- was expected to be submitted to a Council vote on Friday.

The text of the draft, a copy of which AFP obtained, again condemns "in the strongest terms" Pyongyang's series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

The Council calls on the North to "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner," and end all ballistic missile test launches.

An annex to the resolution adds to an already lengthy blacklist another 14 individuals and four entities accused of contributing to the missile programs whose assets would be frozen and who would face a travel ban.

Those listed are bank and corporate executives involved in military financing, or officials in North Korea's Workers' Party.

The first on the list, Cho Il-U, is described as the man "believed to be in charge of overseas espionage operations and foreign intelligence collection" for Kim Jong-Un's regime.

The entities listed include Koryo Bank, two trading houses linked to North Korea's military, and the army's Strategic Rocket Force.

For weeks, the United States has been negotiating with China on how to respond to Pyongyang's missile tests.

Washington is counting on Beijing to bring the North in line.

"China has agreed to this text... and the American idea is to move rather quickly," one Council diplomat told AFP.

The diplomat added that none of the Council's five veto-wielding permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the US -- have threatened to block the resolution.

The North has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of last year in its quest to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States -- something President Donald Trump has vowed "won't happen."

The Security Council had threatened to boost sanctions against Pyongyang after one of its May test launches.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said Tuesday that she believed Washington and Beijing could reach a deal on new sanctions by week's end.

The Security Council adopted two sanctions resolutions last year to ramp up pressure on Pyongyang and deny Kim the hard currency needed to fund his military programs.

S. Korea military 'hid missile launchers from president'
Seoul (AFP) May 31, 2017
South Korean military officials deliberately withheld information from the president about the arrival of new launchers for a controversial US anti-missile system, his office said Wednesday. Documents submitted to Moon Jae-In shortly after he came to office this month were redacted to remove mention of four new rocket launchers for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. ... read more

Related Links
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
All about missiles at SpaceWar.com
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com

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