For the first time in about four years, a US aircraft carrier – USS Ronald Reagan – arrived in South Korea on Friday. It will join other military ships in a display of force meant to send a message to North Korea.
At a naval facility in the port city of Busan in the southern United States, the USS Ronald Reagan and the ships in its strike group docked.
Its landing signifies the largest deployment to date as part of a renewed effort to have more American “strategic assets” operate in the region to dissuade North Korea.
Rear Admiral Michael Donnelly, the commander of the strike group, told reporters on board the ship that the visit had been long anticipated and was intended to strengthen ties with South Korean partners and improve interoperability between the navy.
When asked if there was any signal to North Korea, he responded, “We are leaving messaging to diplomats,” but noted that combined exercises were meant to make sure the partners could respond to threats at any time, anywhere.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has pushed for more joint exercises and other displays of military power as a warning to North Korea, which this year conducted a record number of missile tests after talks failed to persuade it to end its nuclear weapons and missile development.
Observers say Pyongyang also appears to be preparing to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017.
North Korea has denounced previous U.S. military deployments and joint drills as rehearsals for war and proof of hostile policies by Washington and Seoul. – Agencies