May 26, 2022 11:01 UTC
  •  US, Japan fly fighter jets over Sea of Japan in show of strength after N Korea missile launches

The United States and Japan say they have jointly staged fighter jet flight over the Sea of Japan in a show of strength after the latest missile launches by North Korea.

The joint exercise was meant to “showcase combined capabilities to deter and counter regional threats,” the US military said in a news release on Thursday.

As part of the drill, four F-15 fighter jets from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force Chitose Air Base and four F-16s from US Misawa Air Base, both in northern Japan, flew together on Wednesday afternoon.

The military exercise was conducted after North Korea launched at least three ballistic missiles toward the sea on Wednesday morning local time.

All three missiles were fired toward the Sea of Japan off North Korea’s eastern coast one after another, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

South Korean officials further said that one of the missiles appeared to be Pyongyang's largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), with an estimated range of around 15,000 kilometers, enough to reach the US.

The latest test marks the 16th time that North Korea has fired its missiles this year, including what the US says was a failed intercontinental ballistic missile test on May 4 that exploded shortly after launch.

The North launched its missiles hours after American President Joe Biden left the Japanese capital Tokyo following a meeting with leaders from Japan, India and Australia.

Separately, the US military and South Korean forces also conducted joint live-fire tests, including surface-to-surface missile tests.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, held three rare meetings with Kim during his tenure from 2016 to 2020 to accomplish North Korea's complete denuclearization. The attempt failed despite Pyongyang's positive efforts.

Since then, Pyongyang, which has been under crippling international sanctions, conducted several weapons tests, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range.

UN to vote on US push for further sanctions against North

Later on Thursday, the UN Security Council will vote on a US push to impose more punitive measures against Pyongyang over its renewed ballistic missile launches.

The draft resolution would “further restrict North Korea's ability to advance its unlawful WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and ballistic missile programs, it would streamline sanctions implementation and further facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need,” Reuters quoted an unnamed US official as saying.