The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan arrived in South Korea to participate in joint exercises

The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan arrived in South Korea to participate in joint exercises

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan arrived in the South Korean port of Busan on Friday ahead of a joint military exercise between the two countries aimed at demonstrating its strength against growing threats from North Korea.

The exercise will be the first military maneuvers in the region involving U.S. aircraft carriers since 2017, when the U.S. sent three aircraft carriers, including the Ronald Reagan, to participate in the exercise with South Korea. The maneuvers were in response to North Korean nuclear and missile tests.

This year, the allies resumed their exercises, which in recent years had been postponed or conducted in abbreviated form, either because of the COVID-19 pandemic or to support diplomatic contacts with Pyongyang.

The South Korean Navy said the joint exercises are designed to increase combat readiness and demonstrate the “strong resolve of the Korean-American alliance for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

The U.S. aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he would never give up his nuclear weapons and missiles; he said they were needed to counter what he perceived as hostility from the United States.

North Korea also passed a new law enshrining its status as a nuclear power and authorizing the preventive use of nuclear weapons in a range of scenarios where the country or its leadership is threatened.

The threat from North Korea is also expected to be a key theme of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to South Korea next week. Harris will visit Seoul after attending the funeral of assassinated former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.