Underscoring the tensions, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina urged the Pentagon on Sunday to move dependents of American service members out of South Korea because of the threat of conflict. More than 28,000 United States troops are stationed there, many living with their families.
“It’s crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea,” Mr. Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“I think it’s now time to start moving American dependents out of South Korea,” he added.
The military exercises that began Monday involve 12,000 personnel and also include six F-22 Raptors, representing the largest deployment of the stealth fighters to South Korea, officials said.
The drills will be conducted under wartime scenarios that include attacks on mock North Korean nuclear and missile targets, South Korea’s military said.
North Korea’s missile launch last Tuesday came after more than a two-month lull in the country’s nuclear and missile testing, which raised some hopes that it might be extending an olive branch to ease the hair-trigger military tensions on the peninsula.