US-South Korea drills deter North Korea, Pentagon claims hours after North Korea launches ICBM
The Department of Defense claimed Thursday its frequent joint military exercises with South Korea continues to deter North Korean attacks.
"I think what's important for people to understand is, one, deterrence continues to work," Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters at a daily Department of Defense press briefing.
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The remarks came just hours after North Korea launched its latest ICBM — the second of the year.
The South Korean military said the missile was fired toward the East Sea. The launch came hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Kishida were slated to meet in Tokyo to discuss various issues.
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"Despite launching missiles into the ocean, North Korea is not attacking, nor should they, and that the United States, Japan, South Korea and other allies and partners in the region will continue to work together to expand that deterrence and to keep our countries safe," Ryder stated.
The Thursday ICMB launch also came amid the ongoing South Korea-U.S. Freedom Shield (FS) exercise, which the North has decried as "preparations for a war of aggression" against it, South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported.
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"And so in terms of North Korea's reactions to these types of exercises, as you heard me say before, not only is it inappropriate, it is destabilizing and concerning clearly to those in the region," Ryder concluded.
The White House strongly condemned the launch.
"This launch is a flagrant violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. While U.S. INDOPACOM has assessed it did not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel, or territory, or to our allies, this launch needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region," National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson wrote in a statement.