US, South Korea begin largest-ever joint air drill

Pyongyang

Pyongyang

This deployment, as well as the three USA nuclear aircraft carriers deployed last month near the North Korean waters, falls under the agreement in October between Seoul and Washington to increase rotational deployment of strategic assets of the United States in the Korean peninsula.

The joint exercise is created to enhance readiness and operational capability and to ensure peace and security on the Korean peninsula, the USA military had said before the drills began.

Six U.S. F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets arrived in South Korea on Saturday for joint air drills between Seoul and Washington slated for next week in a show of force against North Korea.

Part of the USA force taking part in the wargames, including a dozen of F-35B stealth jets, will fly from a Japanese airbase, where they have been stationed. Over 230 aircraft are taking part in the exercise, including 80 with the South Korean military and 150 with the USA military.

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The U.S. also plans to send F-35A and F-35B stealth jets, F-16C fighter planes and others including an unspecified number of B-1B bombers.

Last week, North Korea launched a missile it claimed was capable of reaching the entire U.S. mainland, raising new fears about the country's nuclear arsenal and prompting the island USA state of Hawaii to sound its nuclear attack sirens for the first time since the Cold War. "The joint aerial exercise is an overt and direct challenge to USA that could prove to be what touches off a nuclear war", the newspaper warned.

"The Trump team is begging for nuclear war by staging an extremely unsafe nuclear gamble on the Korean peninsula", North Korea's Foreign Ministry stated in a statement on Saturday.

The air forces of South Korea and the United States are ready for another joint exercise, set to start on Monday. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has recently said that the U.S. had previously made it clear that new wargames might not come until spring - which would allow room to find a lasting diplomatic solution - but has instead escalated its military exercises with South Korea.

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At the same time, various USA officials have been directing belligerent rhetoric at Pyongyang on nearly a daily basis.

"The priorities that the president's given us to move as quickly as we can to resolve this crisis with North Korea", General H.R. McMaster told Fox News in an interview.

North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country called Trump "insane" on Sunday and said the drill would "push the already acute situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war". According to the newspaper, the military initially planned the launch the unit in 2019, but has now sped up the timeline.

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