U.S. and Japanese naval forces launched a major joint military exercise on Thursday involving an aircraft carrier battle group and some 14,000 personnel.
The exercises come just days after North Korean Ambassador Ja Song Nam blasted the drills in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, calling the situation around the Korean peninsula was “the worst ever.”
The exercises involve the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, and the guided-missile destroyers USS Stethem, USS Chafee and USS Mustin, among others.
The annual exercise “is designed to increase the defensive readiness and interoperability of Japanese and American forces through training in air and sea operations,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.
The exercises come following additional drills involving three U.S. carrier battle groups including the Reagan.
Japanese and South Korean warships took part in the earlier drills.
North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test earlier this year and has test-fired several ballistic missiles, with two sailing over Japan’s northern-most island.
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