South Korea — Days after North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test in a decade — a move roundly criticized by countries all over the world — the United States on Tuesday flew two nuclear-capable B1-B bombers through South Korean airspace in a demonstration of military might and commitment to the “strong alliance” the U.S. has with South Korea.
Reports The Korea Times:
“The B-1B Lancers conducted a low-altitude flight over Osan Air Base, south of Seoul, around 10:00 a.m. after having flown from the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. The aircraft is capable of carrying the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons of any current American bombers.
“One B-1B was escorted by four F-15ks from South Korean Air Force, while the other was escorted by four F-16s from the U.S. Air Force during the flight.”
General Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the United States Forces Korea (USFK), spoke of the reasoning behind the action following Tuesday’s flight.
“Today’s demonstration provides just one example of the full range of military capabilities in the deep resources of this strong alliance to provide and strengthen extended deterrence,” General Brooks stated in a press release issued by the USFK. “The United States and the Republic of Korea are taking actions every day to strengthen our Alliance and respond to North Korea’s continued aggressive behavior.”
Last week, the United States Geological Survey detected a seismic event “located in the area where North Korea has detonated nuclear explosions in the past.” The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) would later confirm it had indeed successfully conducted its fifth nuclear test since 2006.
Condemnation was immediate and widespread.
President Obama, fresh off a trip to Beijing for the G20 summit, issued a statement reiterating the fact “the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) weighed in on the DPRK’s recent test — which is the second by North Korea in 2016, alone. In a statement, IAEA director Yukiya Amano said:
“This is in clear violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions and in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community. It is a deeply troubling and regrettable act.”
Even Russia and China, who normally maintain a smoother relationship with North Korea, found the nuclear test disconcerting. In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry maintained it “firmly opposed” the DPRK’s action, while Russia’s Foreign Ministry went on to “insist that the North Korean side stop its dangerous escapades.”
As for the citizens of North Korea, the country’s primary state-run newspaper claims that — in response to Tuesday’s flight of U.S. bombers over South Korea — the people living under the DPRK are “exploding like a volcano” in purported anger.
As Underground Reporter has previously highlighted, the government of North Korea has become increasingly belligerent regarding the sustained U.S. presence in Southeast Asia, and warnings from the DPRK have grown similarly hostile.
As for U.S. ally South Korea, its president stands behind Tuesday’s B1-B bomber flight. In a statement issued following the exercise — and after ordering the South Korean military “to maintain a high-level of combat readiness”— President Park Geun-hye said:
“The military should be determined to bring about an end to the North Korean regime once it fires a nuclear missile. We need to take more effective actions against its nuclear provocations.”
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