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04 December 2017, 01:08 | Damon Campbell
S. Korea-US ready for air force joint drills against N. Korea's missile provocations
North Korea has warned that a "reckless" joint military drill by the US and South Korea could spark a nuclear war.
The exercises come after last week's test-launch by North Korea of its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) yet, though the US-South Korea drills had already been planned.
U.S. Air Force aircraft arrived in South Korea on Saturday to participate in a joint aerial drill just a week after North Korea launched a ballistic missile. On Wednesday, 29 November, the North fired the long-range missile which flew about 950kms and touched an altitude of 4,475kms during the almost hour-long flight before hitting the sea waters off the Japan coast.
White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster told "Fox News Sunday" that President Donald Trump is prepared to take action against North Korea but is working to convince China, Russia and other nations to use more economic pressure to help curb its nuclear ambitions.
That the missile is likely longer and heavier than its predecessors is evidenced by the sheer size of the transporter, which had nine axles instead of eight previously seen in North Korean transporters, he said.
A 2.5-magnitude natural disaster has been detected in North Korea near where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, Seoul's weather agency said.
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A South Korean defense official confirmed to CNN on Sunday that the United States is sending dozens of high-end fighters, bombers and support aircraft to the drills.
North Korea has repeatedly rejected accusations of human rights abuses and blames sanctions for a dire humanitarian situation.
It flew 600 miles (950 km) before splashing down in waters near Japan and is potentially capable of striking targets as far as 8,100 (13,000 km), which would put Washington within reach. It launched an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15, that state-controlled media described as the "most powerful ICBM" carrying a "super-large heavy warhead" to unprecedented heights of nearly 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles).
The Hwasong-15 is believed to have reached the highest altitude ever recorded by a North Korean missile. "However, the quake could have been caused by geological changes created from the recent nuclear explosion", said an agency official who asked not to be named.
A solid-fuel system for an ICBM would be a significant development and could allow the North Koreans to transport and launch a missile more quickly, compared to a liquid-fuel system that requires lengthy preparation.
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