Seoul: The United States flew nuclear-capable bombers and advanced stealth jets near the Korean Peninsula for joint drills with South Korean warplane on Tuesday, as the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un derided doubts about her country’s military and threatened a full-range intercontinental ballistic missile test.
The deployment of the U.S. B-52 bombers and the F-22 stealth fighter jets were part of an agreement to protect South Korea with all available means, including nuclear, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said.
The drills, which also included F-35 and F-15 fighter jets from South Korea, took place in the waters southwest of Jeju Island, ministry said. The U.S. F-22 jets were deployed in South Korea for the first time in four years and will stay throughout this week for training with South Korean forces, it said.
The drills were held after North Korea claimed to have launched rockets to test its first spy satellite under development, and tested a solid-fuelled motor to be used on a more mobile intercontinental ballistic missile in the past several days.
North Korea already has performed a record number of missile tests as a warning over the previous U.S.-South Korean military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal. There are concerns it may react to the latest aerial training by the allies with a new round of missile tests.
Earlier, Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, used a slew of derisive terms such as “malicious disparaging, rubbish and dog barking” when she dismissed the outside assessments that cast doubt on its developmental spy satellite and long-range missiles. North Korea said its rocket launches Sunday were tests of its first military reconnaissance satellite and released two low-resolution photos of South Korean cities as viewed from space.
Some civilian experts in South Korea and elsewhere said the photos were too crude for surveillance purposes and that the launches were likely a cover for North Korea’s missile technology.
South Korea’s military maintained North Korea fired two medium-range ballistic missiles. Didn’t they think their assessments are too inadequate and imprudent as they commented on our satellite development capability and related preparations only with two photos that we’ve published in our newspaper, Kim Yo Jong, a senior ruling workers’ party official, said in a statement carried in state media.