US BOMBERS FLY OVER KOREA PENIN­SULA AF­TER ICBM TEST

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE -

SEOUL— The United States flew two su­per­sonic bombers over the Korean Penin­sula in a show of force against North Korea fol­low­ing the coun­try’s lat­est in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile (ICBM) test.

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

North Korea said it con­ducted an­other suc­cess­ful ICBM test on Fri­day that proved its abil­ity to strike Amer­ica’s main­land, draw­ing a sharp warn­ing from US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

An­a­lysts also con­firmed that flight data from the sec­ond ICBM test indi­cated that a broader part of the main­land United States, in­clud­ing Los An­ge­les and Chicago, was now in range of North Korea’s weapons.

‘Most ur­gent threat’

The B-1B flight, con­ducted on Sat­ur­day, was in di­rect re­sponse to the ICBM test and the pre­vi­ous launch ear­lier this month of the Hwa­song-14 rocket, ac­cord­ing to the US state­ment.

“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.”

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

The United States has of­ten used over­flights of the su­per­sonic B-1B Lancer bomber and other war­planes in times of height­ened an­i­mosi­ties with North Korea.

B-1B bombers have been sent to South Korea for fly­overs sev­eral times this year in re­sponse to North Korea’s banned mis­sile tests and also in the af­ter­math of the death of a US col­lege stu­dent last month af­ter he was re­leased by Py­ongyang in a coma.

‘Stern warn­ing’

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who per­son­ally su­per­vised the mid­night test launch of the ICBM on Fri­day night, said it was a “stern warn­ing” to the United States that it would not be safe from de­struc­tion if it tried to at­tack, ac­cord­ing to the North’s of­fi­cial KCNA news agency.

North Korea’s state tele­vi­sion broad­cast pic­tures of the ICBM launch, show­ing the mis­sile lift­ing off in a fiery blast in dark­ness and Kim cheer­ing with mil­i­tary aides.

China, North Korea’s main ally, said it op­posed the mis­sile launches that it said vi­o­lated UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions de­signed to curb Py­ongyang’s banned nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams.

“At the same time, China hopes all par­ties act with cau­tion, to pre­vent ten­sions from con­tin­u­ing to es­ca­late,” China’s for­eign min­istry said in a state­ment on Sat­ur­day.

In Wash­ing­ton, how­ever, Trump said he was “very dis­ap­pointed in China.”

In two mes­sages on Twit­ter, he said: “Our fool­ish past lead­ers have al­lowed them to make hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars a year in trade, yet … they do NOTH­ING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer al­low this to con­tinue. China could eas­ily solve this prob­lem!”

Range of 10,400 km

The Hwa­song-14 ICBM, named af­ter the Korean word for Mars, reached an al­ti­tude of 3,724.9 kilo­me­ters (2,314.6 miles) and flew 998 km (620 miles) for 47 min­utes and 12 sec­onds be­fore land­ing in the waters off the Korean Penin­sula’s east coast, ac­cord­ing to KCNA.

West­ern ex­perts said cal­cu­la­tions based on that flight data and es­ti­mates from the US, Ja­panese and South Korean mil­i­taries showed that the mis­sile could have been ca­pa­ble of go­ing as far into the Amer­i­can heart­land Den­ver and Chicago.

David Wright of the US-based Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists wrote in a blog post that if the ICBM had flown on a stan­dard tra­jec­tory, the mis­sile would have had a range of 10,400 km(6,500 miles).

The Hwa­song-14 ICBM, which North Korea first tested on July 4, is the high­light of sev­eral new weapons sys­tems that Py­ongyang launched this year.

Other N. Korea mis­siles

The weapons 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.

North Korea of­ten shows mockup im­ages of a mis­sile hit­ting key US land­marks in its me­dia.

The iso­lated coun­try has re­ferred to the United States as its sworn en­emy in its pro­pa­ganda since the 1950-53 Korean War in which North Korea, backed by Rus­sia and China, fought against South Korea, sup­ported by the United States.

—AP

SHOWOF FORCE Two US su­per­sonic bombers fly over the Korean Penin­sula in a show of force against North Korea fol­low­ing its lat­est in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile test.

—AP

LOWPASS The two US Lancer bombers are es­corted by South Korea and Ja­panese fighter jets that made a low pass near Seoul on Sun­day.

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