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US atomic submarine in S Korea

2 February 2015 15:17

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A nuclear-powered US submarine has arrived in South Korea to take part in an annual Seoul-Washington joint military exercise, a South Korean naval officer says.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency quoted the naval officer, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying that the USS Olympia (SSN-717) arrived in the southern port city of Jinhae, 410 kilometers south of capital, Seoul, on Friday.

The Los Angeles-class submarine, carrying some 120 sailors, will participate in the joint Seoul-Washington three-day naval drill starting Thursday, the official added.

“The submarine will join a South Korean fleet to launch the drill focusing on detecting enemies’ submarines and surface vessels in waters near the Korean Peninsula in order to boost interoperability between the two nations and to check joint readiness,” the officer said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Arlo Abrahamson, spokesman for the US Navy in South Korea, confirmed the submarine’s arrival in South Korea “as part of a routine visit.”

The USS Olympia is said to be equipped with Tomahawk land attack missiles and without any nuclear missiles.

North Korea says the military exercise is a practice for invasion, and that Pyongyang will take every measure to demonstrate its might as long as threats from the US persist.

The planned drill comes at a time when North Korea has denounced these maneuvers as a provocative “rehearsal for invasion,” calling for them to be called off to avoid military tensions between South and North Korea and improve bilateral relations.

South Korea has rejected the calls by its northern neighbor, insisting that the joint military drills would go ahead as planned, though reportedly on a smaller scale.

South Korea and the United States have repeatedly said that the military exercise is “defensive” in nature.

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