A show of force

U.S. bombers fly over South Korea af­ter lat­est ICBM test

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD - BY THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The United States flew two su­per­sonic bombers over the Korean Penin­sula on Sun­day in a show of force against North Korea fol­low­ing the coun­try’s lat­est in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile test. The U.S. also said it con­ducted a suc­cess­ful test of a mis­sile de­fence sys­tem lo­cated in Alaska.

The B-1 bombers were es­corted by South Korean fighter jets as they per­formed a low­pass over an air base near the South Korean cap­i­tal of Seoul be­fore re­turn­ing to An­der­sen Air Force Base in Guam, the U.S. Pa­cific Air Forces said in a state­ment.

It said the mis­sion was a re­sponse to North Korea’s two ICBM tests this month. An­a­lysts say flight data from the North’s sec­ond test, con­ducted Fri­day night, showed that a broader part of the main­land United States, in­clud­ing Los An­ge­les and Chicago, is now in range of Py­ongyang’s weapons.

“North Korea re­mains the most ur­gent threat to re­gional sta­bil­ity,’’ said Gen. Ter­rence J. O’Shaugh­nessy, Pa­cific Air Forces com­man­der. “Diplo­macy re­mains the lead. How­ever, we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to our al­lies and our na­tion to show­case our un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment while plan­ning for the worstcase sce­nario.

“If called upon, we are ready to re­spond with rapid, lethal, and over­whelm­ing force at a time and place of our choos­ing,’’ O’Shaugh­nessy said.

Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, a Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, told CBS’ `”Face the Na­tion’’ that North Korea’s lat­est test presents a clear and present dan­ger to the United States.

“I’ve spent time on the in­tel­li­gence and at the brief­ings, and done as much read­ing as I pos­si­bly could,’’ said Fe­in­stein, a mem­ber of the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee. “And I’m con­vinced that North Korea has never moved at the speed that this leader has to de­velop an ICBM.’’

Fe­in­stein said the sit­u­a­tion shows the dan­ger of iso­lat­ing a coun­try.

“I think the only so­lu­tion is a diplo­matic one,’’ she said. “I’m very dis­ap­pointed in China’s re­sponse, that it has not been firmer or more help­ful.’’

The United States of­ten sends pow­er­ful war­planes in times of height­ened ten­sions with North Korea. B-1 bombers have been sent to South Korea for fly­overs sev­eral times this year in re­sponse to the North’s banned mis­sile tests, and also fol­low­ing the death of a U.S. col­lege stu­dent last month af­ter he was re­leased by North Korea in a coma.

The Hwa­song-14 ICBM, which the North first tested on July 4, is the high­light of sev­eral new weapons sys­tems Py­ongyang launched this year. They in­clude an in­ter­me­di­ate range mis­sile that North Korea says is ca­pa­ble of hit­ting Alaska and Hawaii, and a solid-fuel midrange mis­sile, which an­a­lysts say can be fired faster and more se­cretly than liq­uid-fuel mis­siles.

The U.S. Mis­sile De­fence Agency said a Ter­mi­nal High Al­ti­tude Area De­fence, or THAAD, sys­tem lo­cated in Ko­diak, Alaska, was suc­cess­fully tested on Sat­ur­day night, Alaska time. It said that a medi­um­range bal­lis­tic mis­sile was air­launched over the Pa­cific, and that the THAAD sys­tem de­tected, tracked and in­ter­cepted the tar­get.

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