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Friday, January 20, 2017, 11:42

ROK, US, Japan to hold maritime drills against DPRK missiles

By Xinhua

ROK, US, Japan to hold maritime drills against DPRK missiles
In this Oct 28, 2015 US Navy handout photo, the US Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) steams alongside the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy destroyer Sejong the Great (DDG 991) during a photo exercise. (AFP / US Navy / Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Burke)

SEOUL -- The Republic of Korea (ROK), the United States and Japan will hold joint maritime drills this week to enhance capability to detect and trail ballistic missiles from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Yonhap news agency reported on Friday citing the ROK's navy.

The missile warning exercise will be conducted from Friday to Sunday in waters near the three nations, mobilizing three Aegis-equipped destroyers

The missile warning exercise will be conducted from Friday to Sunday in waters near the three nations, mobilizing three Aegis-equipped destroyers, the ROK's navy was quoted as saying.

The ROK's Sejong the Great destroyer, a 7,600-ton Aegis-equipped vessel, will be mobilized, together with the 8,800-ton USS Curtis Wilbur and Japan's Kirishima Aegis destroyers.

The exercise to jointly detect and trail DPRK ballistic missiles would the third of its kind since the first was held in June last year near the US island of Hawaii. The second was staged in November.

It is expected to strengthen missile defense (MD) cooperation between the three countries. Seoul and Washington agreed in July last year to deploy a US missile shield, called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), in the former's southeastern region by the end of this year.

The THAAD deployment indicates the ROK in effect becoming a part of the US missile defense system. China and Russia have strongly opposed the installation as its X-band radar can peer into territories of the two nations.

The ROK's News 1 news agency cited the country's navy as saying that during the exercise, the three countries will share simulated military intelligences on missile detection and trail.

READ MORE: DPRK 'can test-launch ICBM whenever its leadership decides'

The three allies signed a trilateral military pact in December 2014 to share the DPRK's nuclear and missile threats.

The ROK inked the similar military intelligence pact with Japan in November last year despite oppositions from the general public and the parliament.

Participating Aegis destroyers from the United States and Japan are reportedly equipped with SM-3 interceptors that can shoot down incoming missiles at an altitude of over 500 km.

Citing unnamed US and the ROK sources, Yonhap reported on Thursday that Pyongyang already produced a new type of two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that were being mounted on mobile launchers.

Seoul's military believed that the DPRK can test-launch its ICBM at any time when the leadership decides.

Top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un said in his new year speech that his country had entered a final stage to prepare for the test-fire of a long-range ballistic rocket, indicating the ICBM test-launch in the foreseeable future.

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