U.S. RESPONDS TO NORTH KOREA.
SEOUL • 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 low-pass over an airbase 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.
Vice-President Mike Pence said Sunday during a visit to Estonia that the U.S. and its allies plan to increase pressure on North Korea to end its nuclear program.
“The continued provocations by the rogue regime in North Korea are unacceptable and the United States of America is going to continue to marshal the support of nations across the region and across the world to further isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically,” Pence said. “But the era of strategic patience is over. The president of the United States is leading a coalition of nations to bring pressure to bear until that time that North Korea will permanently abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile program.”
Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, called North Korea “the most urgent threat to regional stability.”
“Diplomacy remains the lead. However, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario,” O’Shaughnessy said. “If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing.”
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 Hwasong-14 ICBM, which the North first tested on July 4, is the highlight of several new weapons systems Pyongyang launched this year.
U.S. air force pilots were escorted by South Korean jets as they flew over the Korean Peninsula before returning to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, Sunday. The move was in response to North Korea’s two ICBM tests this month.