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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S., S.Korea to hold large-scale military drills in Yellow Sea

RIA Novosti

07:59 02/06/2010

SEOUL, June 2 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. and South Korea will hold large-scale naval exercises in the Yellow Sea next week to send a "strong signal" to Pyongyang, the Yonhap news agency said, quoting a South Korean defense official.

The drills, to be held on June 8-11, are intended to show North Korea a "firm combined defense posture" of Washington and Seoul, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Relations between the North and the South soured after Seoul accused Pyongyang of sinking the 1,200-ton South Korean Cheonan corvette. The vessel sank near the disputed Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea on March 26 causing the loss of 46 lives.

An international investigation later confirmed the suspicions that the ship was destroyed by a torpedo launched from a North Korean submarine. The two countries remain technically at war as their 1950-1953 conflict ended only in an armistice.

The South Korean official told Yonhap the U.S. would mobilize its nuclear-powered 97,000-ton carrier USS George Washington along with an Aegis destroyer and a nuclear submarine.

South Korea will reportedly deploy a 4,500-ton destroyer, a submarine and F-15K fighter jets.

The official was quoted as saying canons would be fired, anti-submarine bombs dropped and enemy communications intercepted during the exercises "in a way similar to actual warfare."

Last week, the South Korean Navy conducted independent anti-submarine drills in the Yellow Sea as part of measures to counter any further attacks by North Korea. The exercises involved about 10 warships, which practice live artillery firing and dropping anti-submarine depth charges.

North Korea, angered by Seoul's accusations, has declared that it is cutting all ties with the South and has threatened to scrap an agreement on preventing accidental naval clashes with its southern neighbor.

South Korea is seeking new sanctions against the North over the attack. The move is yet another blow for North Korea's economy already damaged by past UN sanctions intended to force Pyongyang to quit its nuclear program.

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