Korea-U.S. Stage Joint Naval Exercise
Urgent preparations for the North's third nuclear test are in full swing in the South with the country's navy testing its combat readiness alongside its U.S. counterpart in the sea off the peninsula's east coast.
Heo Seung-ha reports. South Korea and the United States on Monday kicked off a three-day naval drill in Korea's East Sea.
This is a regular joint exercise aimed at testing the combat readiness of both countries.
However, some experts view this week's drill slightly differently, as the timing coincides with Pyongyang's planned third nuclear test, which seems to be imminent.
A former naval commander, Ahn Gi-seok, says the drill could be seen as a warning to Pyongyang, because a missile loaded on an American nuclear-powered submarine is capable of targeting secret sites.
Beside the nuclear-powered submarine, USS San Francisco, and the Aegis destroyer Shiloh from the U.S., which are equipped with missiles, South Korea has deployed ten warships in the drill.
Meanwhile, a high-level South Korean government official says Seoul is considering imposing a naval blockade on North Korea, should it go ahed with its nulear test.
The source said that, under the plan, foreign ships which have visited North Korea would not be able to enter ports in South Korea, the United States, Japan, or EU nations.
He said the sanctions would cut off the supply of everyday goods to North Korea.
With South Korea becoming the chair of the UN Security Council in February, Seoul and Washington have reportedly come up with a draft resolution of punitive measures against Pyongyang, including the new sanction.
Heo Seung-ha, Arirang News.