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S. Korea, Japan, U.S. begin missile warning exercise

South Korea, Japan and the United States began an exercise Tuesday aimed at improving their response to missile launches by North Korea, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said.

 

The two-day missile warning exercise comes as tensions are running high in the region after South Korea and the United States began their annual joint military drills Monday following North Korea’s latest test-firing of ballistic missiles.

 

Three Aegis-equipped destroyers participated in the computer-simulation exercise in which mock missiles from North Korea will be detected and traced.

 

The three countries are also sharing information during the exercise, which is being held in waters near Japan and South Korea.

 

The exercise comes after South Korea signed a pact with Japan last November to allow the sharing of military intelligence. The deal, known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement, came in response to the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

 

The Aegis destroyers from Japan and South Korea are taking part in the exercise near their territorial waters. According to a South Korean military official, its navy and Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force are sharing information through the U.S. satellite system.

 

The three countries held similar exercises three times in June and November last year and January this year.

 

South Korea has been engaged in multiple military exercises to increase its readiness to counter North Korean threats. On March 6, North Korea launched four ballistic missiles in Japan’s direction simultaneously in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

 

On Monday, South Korea and the United States began their annual joint military exercise, known as Key Resolve. This drill will run for two weeks.

 

The two allies are also conducting a separate exercise, called Foal Eagle, from March 1 to late April. Foal Eagle is a field training exercise involving ground, air and naval forces, and this year’s drill is the largest ever.

 

While North Korea has slammed the joint drills as a rehearsal for invasion, and threatened to take military action, South Korea and the United States maintain the exercises are defensive in nature.

 

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