South Korea conducted a massive live-fire naval exercise in preparation for a naval conflict with North Korea.
The South deployed its 2,500-ton Gangwon frigate, a 1,000-ton patrol ship, several 400-ton guided-missile vessels, and a number of smaller speed boats, the South Korean Navy revealed Tuesday.
“The training this time is aimed at improving our military’s immediate response posture against the enemy’s naval provocation,” Commander of the 13th Maritime Battle Group Captain Choi Young-chan said. “If the enemy provokes anywhere, whether on or under water, we will immediately hit back and bury them at sea.”
North Korea has a surprisingly large naval force, but most of the North’s combat ships and submarines are outdated.
The drill follows a major military exercise Monday, when South Korea’s strategic rocket and aviation units fired Hyunmoo surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and long-range air-to-air missiles. (RELATED: South Korea Practices Bombing North Korea’s Nuclear Test Site After H-Bomb Burst)
These exercises follow North Korea’s test of what it claims was a staged thermonuclear device, specifically a hydrogen bomb, Sunday. North Korea plans to mount the device on its new Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, which leading experts suggest can strike deep into American territory.
South Korea will conduct additional naval drills starting Wednesday, and the U.S. and South Korea are expected to conduct anti-submarine warfare drills later this week. The South is preparing to purchase billions of dollars in advanced weaponry, and the country is preparing to deploy four additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor launchers to boost its defensive capabilities.
The South Korean government initially pursued dialogue with North Korea and demonstrated an unwillingness to provoke North Korea through military maneuvers. South Korea’s defense ministry is now mulling “all military options,” including the possible redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula. South Korea’s policy towards nuclear weapons has not changed, but repeated North Korean provocations are causing the South to re-evaluate its offensive and defensive policies.
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