South Korean defense officials say the yearly military exercises with the United States next month will be the largest ever.
The military drills take place as tensions with North Korea increase over its recent nuclear and long-range missile tests.
Defense Minister Han Min-koo said Thursday that about 15,000 U.S. troops will take part in the yearly Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises. That is twice the number from last year.
Yonhap news agency said Wednesday the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis will take part in the drills.
North Korea opposes the exercises on the peninsula. It says they are a preparation for an attack.
Officials say they are talking with the U.S. about deploying an advanced U.S. missile defense system. China strongly opposes the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, called THAAD.
South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said: “The official announcement of the possibility of THAAD deployment is a defensive measure to counter increasing nuclear and missile threats by North Korea.”
Opposition lawmakers say they are concerned about the possible missile deployment. They also say they worry about the closing of the Kaesong jointly operated industrial center by South Korea.
In related news, South Korean intelligence officials have told South Korean lawmakers that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered preparations for possible terror attacks on the South.
A member of South Korea's ruling Saenuri party told reporters Thursday the National Intelligence Service believes the attacks could target many groups. These include anti-North Korean activists, defectors and South Korean government officials.
Subways, shopping centers and power stations were also called potential targets.
President Park Geun-hye has promised a more hardline approach toward North Korea. Her government has taken measures aimed at causing the North to give up its nuclear weapons program or face, in her words, “regime collapse.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. military made an additional show of strength by flying four advanced fighter jets from Japan’s Okinawa island.
I'm Mario Ritter.
Richard Green reported on this story for VOANews.com. Mario Ritter adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
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Words in This Story
drills –n. exercises or training, especially in the military
peninsula –n. an extension of land with water on three sides
advanced –adj. at a higher level, operating with more abilities
potential –adj. possible, related to the possibility that something might happen
hardline –adj. firm, unwilling to make changes or concessions