Crew members guide US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters taking off from the deck of the US aircraft carrier USS George Washington during joint military drills between the US and South Korea in the Yellow Sea, southwest of Seoul on June 24, 2012.
The United States and South Korea have ended the controversial two-month-long military maneuvers that provoked recent tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
"The drill is over but the South Korean and US militaries will continue to watch out for potential provocations by the North, including a missile launch," South Korean defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok told reporters on Tuesday.
The annual “Foal Eagle” air, ground and naval exercises had kicked off on March 1 with participation of than 10,000 US troops and a far higher number of South Korean military forces.
The Korean Peninsula has been locked in a cycle of escalating military rhetoric following the participation of nuclear-capable US B-52 and B-2 stealth bombers in the joint drills.
The move by the US prompted North Korea to step up its war rhetoric, authorizing its army to launch 'preemptive nuclear strikes' on the United States.
Pyongyang has also said its military should be prepared to attack "all US military bases in the Asia-Pacific region, including the US mainland, Hawaii, and Guam [Island]."
On March 30, North Korea declared that it was in a “state of war” with South Korea. Pyongyang warned that if Washington and Seoul launched a preemptive attack, the conflict would “not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war.”