The US, South Korea, and Japan kicked off their first-ever aerial war games near the Korean Peninsula. The move is sure to heighten tensions between the bloc and North Korea. Pyongyang has warned that Washington was creating a real possibility of nuclear war by deploying strategic weapons platforms to the peninsula.
On Sunday, a nuclear-capable US B-52 engaged in operations with South Korean and Japanese aircraft. The three countries held naval drills, but this week’s war games are the first aerial exercises. Last week’s maritime war games were the first held by the three nations in seven years.
The war games are a result of the US policy to build ties between its Asian partners in order to confront North Korea and China. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden brought his Japanese and South Korean counterparts to Camp David and inked a trilateral deal to increase joint military exercises.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have sharply increased since Biden took office. The US and South Korea conducted a series of record-large war games, provoking North Korea to conduct dozens of missile tests.
Pyongyang views the deployment of US-nuclear capable weapons systems to Korea and trilateral war games between Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo as particularly threatening to North Korea’s national security.
In a fiery address to the UN General Assembly, North Korea’s representative to the body, Kim Song, blasted the US for pushing the world towards nuclear war. North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un said last week that Washington had created a “new cold war.” Pyongyang said it would develop its nuclear deterrent “to a higher level” in response.