As North Korea continues pursuit of nuclear capabilities – evident by last Friday’s weapon testing – the U.S. has deployed two B-1 bombers to the region in a display of might and solidarity with South Korean and Japanese allies.
The U.S. strategic bombers took off from a base in Guam under escort from Japan Air Self Defense Force aircrafts and were received in South Korean airspace by South Korean and U.S fighter jets. The flock of jets completed their low-altitude flight over Osan Air Base, less than 50 miles from the Demilitarized Zone border between the two Koreas.
Washington’s dispatch of bombers to South Korea has anger in North Korea “exploding like a volcano,” according to the state’s official KCNA news agency.
“Any sanction, provocation and pressure cannot ruin our status as a nuclear state, and evil political and military provocations will only result in a flood of reckless nuclear attacks that will bring a final destruction,” KCNA said.
The U.S. hopes to deescalate tensions in the region diplomatically, and remains open to dialogue with the infamously closed-off nation, under the condition that North Korea accept denuclearization.
Barring formal talks with North Korea, Washington plans to work with China, North Korea’s ally in the region, to tighten existing resolutions.
China’s official People’s Daily newspaper wrote:
Both sides think that North Korea’s nuclear test is not beneficial to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. At present, we must work hard to prevent the situation on the peninsula continuing to escalate, and put the issue of the nuclearization of the peninsula back on the track of dialogue and consultation. - People’s Daily
A Call For Arms
In the meantime, many officials in South Korea are calling for their own nuclear capabilities as a means of self-defense.
“I want our government and military to stay fully ready to retaliate,” South Korean President Park Geun-hye said before a cabinet meeting.
The U.S. withdrew nuclear weapons from the region under a 1991 pact for denuclearization of the peninsula. Sun Kim, the U.S. envoy to North Korea, says the U.S. will not reintroduce nuclear weapons into South Korea.
“It’s a question of North Korean intentions and commitment,” Kim said. “If North Korea is ready to talk to us sincerely, I think we can work with that within the six party process.”
The six party talks – which include the U.S., China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas – have been stalled since 2008.