Pentagon flies nuclear-capable bombers over Korean Peninsula
The US deployed B-52 strategic bombers as part of military exercises with South Korea on Wednesday, prompting a warning from North Korea that Washington’s increased military activity in the region could cause tensions to reach boiling point.
The South Korean Defense Ministry said the maneuvers marked the first time in a month that the nuclear-capable aircraft had flown over the peninsula.
“[The exercises] show the strong resolve of the [South] Korea-US alliance and its perfect readiness to respond to any provocation by North Korea swiftly and overwhelmingly,” Lt. Gen. Park Ha Sik, commander of the South Korean air force operation command, said in a statement.
Along with the bombers, F-35 and F-16 fighters also took part in the joint exercise.
US Seventh Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Scott L. Pleus claimed that ties with South Korea are “stronger than ever,” and that their respective air forces are capable of completing “any mission we will be tasked with.”
North Korean state news agency KCNA responded to the drills in an article on Thursday, warning that the actions by Washington and Seoul could lead the situation on the peninsula “to an irreversible catastrophe.”
The article, written by North Korean international security analyst Choe Ju Hyon, accused the US and “its followers” of making “threatening remarks against the DPRK,” as well as “steadily escalating the intensity and scale” of their “aggressive” drills since the start of the year.
Choe warned that the “military provocations by the US-led warmongers have gone beyond the tolerance limit,” and described Washington as a “cancer-like entity threatening regional security and global peace.”
The US previously deployed B-52 bombers to the region in early March, as well as in December of last year.
Washington and Seoul have insisted their joint drills are defensive in nature and are intended as a response to the recent uptick in Pyongyang’s missile tests. The North has claimed that the two nations are rehearsing for a war of aggression.