United States Prepare In Response to North Korea Nuclear Tests
United States Forces said Tuesday that it’s ramped up training exercises for its Patriot missile defense system in response to North Korea’s recent flurry of launches and recent weapons tests.
The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade recently “increased the intensity of their certification exercise” of a battery of Patriot Advanced Capability-3, or PAC-3, missile interceptors, the USFK said in a statement.
While such training is routinely conducted, the escalation of the exercise “underscores the seriousness” that USFK takes against North Korea’s recent launch behavior, the statement said.
North Korea has conducted nine missile launches since the beginning of the year, including what U.S. and South Korean officials have concluded were tests of a new intercontinental ballistic missile system.
Officials said the USFK brigade moved to a remote location and executed “air and missile defense operations under a simulated combat scenario.”
“[North Korea’s] significant increase in its missile testing activity undermines peace, security and destabilizes the Northeast Asia region,” the USFK added.
Pyongyang said its last two missile launches, on Feb. 27 and March 5, were connected to a new reconnaissance satellite program, but the Pentagon said last week that the claim is a cover story for continued development of an ICBMthat the North first showed during a military parade more than a year ago.
The secretive state has not conducted any full ICBM or nuclear weapons tests since 2017, but North Korean leader Kim Jong Un suggested in January that he was ready to consider lifting a self-imposed moratorium.
South Korean officials said that signs point to the North preparing for another ICBM test as soon as this week, JoongAng Ilbo reported on Sunday.
International monitors have also recently detected activity at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor facility and its Punggye-ri nuclear test ground.
Washington leveled new sanctions against two Russian individuals and three entities last week over their support for Pyongyang’s weapons program.