Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday urged the Pentagon to start moving U.S. military dependents, such as spouses and children, out of South Korea, saying conflict with North Korea is getting close.
His comments came three days after North Korea carried out its first ballistic missile test in two months, in defiance of United Nations resolutions.
The five-day Vigilant Ace drill - involving some 230 aircraft including F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters - begins Monday, five days after the North test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile believed to be capable of hitting the US mainland in a new challenge to President Donald Trump. North Korea's latest missile is believed by experts to be capable of reaching all parts of the continental U.S. Despite its range, though, reports say U.S. officials now believe the missile likely did not survive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
The national security advisor reiterated that the North Korean threat is "increasing every day" and explained that we're "in a race to be able to solve this problem". North Korea released dozens of photos and a video after Wednesday's launch of the new Hwasong-15 missile, which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared had "finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force".
The F-22s flew into South Korea together in a show of force, and the allies plan to stage simulated attacks on mock North Korean nuclear and missile targets, according to Yonhap. It has been set up under the South Korean army's Special Warfare Command.More news: New details: Woman, 70, makes initial appearance in Shelburne ricin case
North Korea has repeatedly rejected accusations of human rights abuses and blames sanctions for a dire humanitarian situation.
It is scheduled to last five days and comes less than a week after the rogue state's latest intercontinental ballistic missile test, which Pyongyang claimed was capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.
The Rodong Sinmun commentary said the aerial wargames show "the enemies' moves to start a nuclear war have reached a risky stage".
China should take unilateral action to cut off North Korean oil imports, McMaster said, adding, "you can't shoot a missile without fuel".
Western analysts said it is more likely the truck was one of about half a dozen vehicles obtained years ago from China, which North Korea has modified since then.