The four-day air and naval joint exercises with the South Korean military began July 25. They include the 97,000-ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, 20 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft, F-22 Raptor fighter jets, and 8,000 troops. Four Japanese military officers are on board the carrier to observe.
The Pentagon had announced the war games, named Invincible Spirit, would take place in the Sea of Japan, to the east of South Korea, and in the Yellow Sea to the west.
The Chinese government strongly objected to U.S. military operations in the Yellow Sea, which divides China from the Korean Peninsula. Shortly before exercises began the Pentagon backed off, and is conducting the operations only off the Korean Peninsulas eastern shores.
We are obviously concerned by some of the things China has said, some of the things China is doing in the military arena, U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates told the New York Times. They are worrying.
Admiral Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said future drills would take place in the Yellow Sea, reported the Financial Times. Washington conducts large military exercises at least twice a year off the South Korean coast.
The current exercises take place four months after the South Korean warship Cheonan sank, killing 46 sailors. Seoul charged North Korea, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), of sinking the ship with torpedoes. Pyongyang has denied involvement. The United Nations Security Council in July passed a resolution condemning the attack, but did not directly accuse the DPRK of carrying it out.
Several days before the military operations, U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Gates traveled to Seoul for talks with their counterparts, South Korean foreign minister Yu Myung-hwan and South Korean defense minister Kim Tae-young.
The four visited the village of Panmunjom in the middle of the demilitarized zone, which divides Korea into two. The truce that ended the Korean War was signed there July 27, 1953. Since then the U.S. government, aided by its South Korean capitalist allies, has never ceased its military threats against North Korea. It maintains 28,000 troops in the South.
Clinton announced that Washington will impose additional economic sanctions on North Korea, seeking to tighten the squeeze with the freezing of assets and limiting what Washington claims is trading of arms and related goods with the DPRK.
The effectiveness of the [U.S.] measures will depend heavily on persuading banks in other countries to shun North Korea, said the Times, because no legitimate American banks do business with the North.
Immediately after visiting Seoul, Clinton headed to the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Hanoi to pressure the governments of the 27-member group to abide by the new U.S. sanctions.
U.S. out of Korean Peninsula!
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