Feb. 28 (UPI) -- South Korea and United States troops are set to launch large-scale joint military exercises on Wednesday.
Joint military drills involving the two countries occur annually in the spring, but landing operations on a large scale have only occurred in even-numbered years, including 2016, when 290,000 South Korean and 15,000 U.S. troops participated. The landing exercises will be reprised this year, beginning Wednesday, because of rising tensions involving North Korea, South Korean and U.S. military sources told the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shinbum.
North Korea test-fired a newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile on Feb. 12. The recent assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, has also heightened tensions.
The Foal Eagle exercise runs through April; the Key Resolve exercise starts March 13, a South Korean defense ministry spokesman told Yonhap News Agency.
Foal Eagle is a field training exercise involving a collaboration of ground, air and naval forces, which will involve the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. Key Resolve is a computer-simulated command post exercise. An exercise will also be conducted involving the THAAD anti-missile battery, which is expected to be deployed in South Korea later this year. China regards the deployment as a provocation.
North Korea announced its objection to the military exercises, saying Friday in the state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun, "As long as the drill is not suspended, we will continue to strengthen our national defense capabilities centering on a nuclear force to defend our country."