Al­lies re­spond to nuke test with show of force

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

The United States has flown a pair of su­per­sonic bombers over South Korea for the sec­ond time in as many weeks in a show of force fol­low­ing North Korea’s lat­est nuclear test ear­lier this month. US Forces Korea said one of the two B-1B bombers landed at Osan Air Base, 120km from the bor­der with North Korea, but did not say when it will re­turn to An­der­sen Air Force Base in Guam.

Such fly­overs are com­mon when an­i­mos­ity rises on the Korean Penin­sula, which is tech­ni­cally in a state of war be­cause the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The United States also flew two B-1B bombers over South Korea on Septem­ber 13.

“What we are show­ing to­day is just one tool we have to choose from a wide ar­ray of op­tions. The al­liance grows stronger ev­ery day and we re­main pre­pared to de­fend and to pre­serve the se­cu­rity of the Korean Penin­sula and the re­gion,” Lt Gen Thomas Berge­son, com­man­der of the US 7th Air Force in South Korea, said in a state­ment.

North Korea uses such fly­overs and the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary pres­ence in the South in its pro­pa­ganda as al­leged proof of US hos­til­ity, which it says is the rea­son it needs a nuclear weapons pro­gramme. Af­ter last week’s fly­over, North Korea’s of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency de­scribed the B-1B as an “ill-famed nuclear war means” and ac­cused the United States of re­sort­ing to “nuclear threat and black­mail” against the North.

The B-1B doesn’t cur­rently carry nuclear weapons un­der a dis­ar­ma­ment treaty, and some US ex­perts do not con­sider them as nuclear ca­pa­ble in their cur­rent con­fig­u­ra­tion.

Mil­i­tary ex­perts raise con­cerns that North Korea is mov­ing closer to­ward ob­tain­ing the abil­ity to put nuclear war­heads on a va­ri­ety of its bal­lis­tic mis­siles, a grow­ing arse­nal that one day may in­clude a re­li­able weapon that could reach the US main­land.

North Korea con­ducted its fifth and most pow­er­ful nuclear test to date on Septem­ber 9, claim­ing it as a suc­cess­ful nuclear war­head det­o­na­tion that proved its abil­ity to mass pro­duce “stan­dard­ised” nuclear weapons that could be used on mis­siles.

There is a pos­si­bil­ity that North Korea will fol­low its lat­est nuclear test with a long-range rocket launch as it did af­ter its fourth nuclear test in Jan­uary. The North’s state me­dia on Tues­day said leader Kim Jong Un ob­served a ground test of a new rocket en­gine and or­dered a satel­lite launch prepa­ra­tion.

Out­siders view North Korea’s space launches as a cover for banned bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests.

FLIGHT: A B-1B touches down in Osan

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