South Korean fighter jets and U.S. B-1B bombers flew together Monday during joint drills conducted by the militaries of those two nations. The drills were conducted over the Korean peninsula, prompting an angry response from North Korean authorities.
The [North] Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) issued a statement in which it claimed “The gangster-like U.S. imperialists have gone extremely reckless in their moves to unleash a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula.”
The KCNA statement continued, “The reckless military provocation is pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula closer to the brink of nuclear war.”
“The army of the DPRK is keenly watching the military movement of the U.S. imperialists, fully ready to react to all forms of war they will opt for with a powerful nuclear treasured sword,” the KCNA added, and, “The U.S. imperialist warmongers would be well advised to always remember the solemn warning of the Korean People’s Army.”
A somewhat less dramatic statement regarding the joint training missions was provided by Lt. Col. Lori Hodge, Pacific Air Forces public affairs deputy director, who reported the U.S. bombers carried out “bilateral training missions with their counterparts from the Republic of Korea and Japanese air forces.”
In recent weeks the U.S. military has moved warships, planes, weapons and personnel to the vicinity of the Korean peninsula. The nuclear-powered submarine USS Michigan recently arrived in the port city of Busan, South Korea, recently, and the U.S. Navy carrier strike group led by the carrier USS Carl Vinson has been patrolling the water off the peninsula for weeks.
North Korea, of course, has threatened to sink both the Carl Vinson and the Michigan.
In addition to the Navy and Air Force assets prepared to counter the North Korean threat of the sabre-rattling Kim Jong-Un, the high tech Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile shield deployed in South Korea is also operational and has initial intercept capability, indicating that it is ready to shoot down any North Korean missiles, including those of the “powerful nuclear treasured sword” variety.
Kim Jong Un is clearly scared. Even North Korea’s ally China has told North Korea’s leadership to ratchet down the rhetoric or face repercussions. Five years since becoming North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong Un has met an American president who will call his bluff.