US and South Korea extend military exercises after North Korean missile launches

Pentagon chief blasts Pyongyang's 'irresponsible and reckless activities'

South Korean Minister of Defence Lee Jong-sup and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin arrive for a joint press conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. EPA
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Defence chiefs from the US and South Korea on Thursday said they would extend joint military exercises following a string of missile launches by North Korea.

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and South Korea's Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup met in Washington to discuss the “grave security challenge” posed by North Korea.

“At this time of heightened tension, our alliance is ironclad,” Mr Austin said.

North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday, shortly after it launched a record-breaking barrage of 23 missiles in a single day.

Concerns are growing that an ICBM could reach western countries, including the US, posing a grave threat if North Korea were to make it nuclear capable.

Mr Austin called the launches “illegal and destabilising”.

The US has 28,500 troops based in South Korea and the allies frequently train together.

The defence chiefs said the coming “Violent Storm” military drills would be extended to include an exercise in which Pyongyang has a nuclear weapon.

Still, the two defence ministers said that they did not feel the US should deploy nuclear devices to the Korean peninsula in response to Pyongyang's latest moves.

Mr Austin condemned the North's “irresponsible and reckless activities” but also hoped for “serious dialogue”.

Updated: November 04, 2022, 6:52 AM