US Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald Reagan Arrives in South Korea to Warn North Korea

US Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald Reagan Arrives in South Korea to Warn North Korea
US Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald Reagan Arrives in South KoreaFo  to Warn North Korea

Seoul - The US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan arrived in South Korea on Friday (23/9/2022) for the first time in about four years. The carrier will join other military vessels in a show of force meant to send a strong message to North Korea.

The USS Ronald Reagan and ships from the accompanying assault fleet dock at a Naval base in the southern port city of Busan, ahead of joint exercises with South Korean forces. His arrival marks the most significant deployment yet, with a renewed push to have more US "strategic assets" operating in the area to confront North Korea.

Attack fleet commander Rear Admiral Michael Donnelly told reporters aboard the visit that the visit was designed to build allied relations and improve interoperability between the navies. "We left a message to the diplomats," he said, when asked about any signal to North Korea.

However, he added joint drills would ensure allies could respond to all threats. "This is an opportunity for us to practice tactics and operations," said Donnelly. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol pushed for more joint exercises and other displays of military might as a warning to North Korea.

Pyongyang this year carried out a record number of missile tests and appears set to resume nuclear tests for the first time since 2017. North Korea has denounced previous US military deployments and joint exercises as rehearsals for war and evidence of hostile policies by Washington and Seoul. The drills have also sparked protests by peace activists who say they only increase regional tensions.

Last week the United States said the carrier visit was a "clear demonstration" of its commitment to deploying and using strategic assets to confront Pyongyang and enhance regional security. However, in announcing the visit, the US Navy made no mention of North Korea, referring only to “regularly scheduled port visits” and emphasizing crew members visiting Busan to volunteer at orphanages and explore the world of K-pop music.

Officials declined to give details of the upcoming joint exercise, but said the carrier would be in port for "a few days." Just hours after the ship docked, a long line of crew members formed as they were tested for COVID-19 before being transported to the city.

One crew member, who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media, said they were looking forward to a respite but geopolitical tensions were always there. "You can never really forget what we are all here for," a member of the carrier's crew told Reuters. The visit was the first to South Korea by an American carrier since 2018. Many drills have since been scaled back or canceled due to diplomatic efforts with North Korea or because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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