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Pentagon: US, South Korea, Japan drill 'shooting down North Korean missiles'

Japanese, South Korean, and US naval vessels take part in joint anti-submarine exercises off South Korea's coast, in this handout photo provided by South Korean Navy and released by the Yonhap news agency on September 30, 2022. (Via Reuters)

The Pentagon says the US, South Korea and Japan have held joint military exercises aimed at simulating the shooting down of North Korean missiles.

The trilateral drills were held on Thursday involving the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier's strike group as well one South Korean and two Japanese destroyers, the Pentagon said.

The involved warships practiced intercepting South Korean ballistic missiles in the Sea of Japan, it added.

"The exercises also demonstrate the deep strength of our trilateral relationship with Japan and the Republic of Korea, which is resolute against those who challenge regional stability," Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a press briefing.

The US Indo-Pacific Command identified the American warships that partook in the exercise as the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville and guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold.

"Chancellorsville provided air defense to the units as they conducted the ballistic missile exercise, which includes, detecting, tracking, and intercepting simulated targets, as well as coordination, communication, and information-sharing between the three countries," a statement from the command said.

The exercise followed a raft of back-to-back ballistic missile launches by the North that considers such maneuvers to be rehearsals for an invasion on its territory.

The most recent of the launches took place earlier on Thursday, with the North firing two short-range ballistic missiles towards its east coast.

The missiles were fired in the direction of Japan, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Japanese government reported.

The launch came right after the American aircraft carrier and its accompanying strike group were redeployed to the waters off the Korean Peninsula.

The Thursday missile launch was the North's sixth in 12 days.

Earlier, Pyongyang fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan on Tuesday.

The missile fell into the Pacific Ocean after flying "over and past" the Japanese territory, prompting a warning for the area's residents to take cover and a temporary suspension of train operations there.

Former US president Donald Trump, took unprecedented steps towards apparently fraternizing the North by initiating several rounds of dialog with it, and even walking a number of steps into the country alongside North Korea's ruler Kim Jong-un.

However, Washington blew what Pyongyang called a “golden opportunity” at mending the situation by insisting too much on the North’s denuclearization. The emphasis prompted Pyongyang to discredit all the steps that had been taken by Trump as disingenuous and go back to its routinely fiery discourse towards Washington.

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