SEOUL, South Korea — The Latest on tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs (all times local):
NATO’s chief is warning that war on the Korean Peninsula would be catastrophic and says the military alliance has the means to respond to missile and nuclear strikes if they are launched.
North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile last week that some observers say would be able to strike the United States.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that “war in that region would be catastrophic and it would have global consequences.”
He said the 29-country alliance “is strong, and united, and NATO is able to respond to any attack, including ballistic and nuclear attacks.”
Stoltenberg added that NATO “will continue to put maximum pressure on North Korea. We will continue to deliver credible deterrence and … work with our partners in the region.”
Hundreds of aircraft including two dozen stealth jets began training Monday as the United States and, South Korea launched a massive combined air force exercise. The war games come a week after North Korea test-fired its most powerful missile ever, an ICBM that may be able to target the eastern seaboard of the United States.
The five-day drill, which is called Vigilant Ace, is meant to improve the allies’ wartime capabilities and preparedness, South Korea’s defense ministry said.
The U.S. Seventh Air Force sent major strategic military assets, including an unusually large number of the latest generations of stealth fighter jets, for the annual training in the Korean Peninsula. In total, 230 aircraft will be flying at eight U.S. and South Korean military installations in the South.