Mes­sages to North Korea

U.S. flies bombers over penin­sula, tests de­fenses at home.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - CAROL MORELLO In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Ash­ley Parker and Mad­hu­mita Mur­gia of The Wash­ing­ton Post; and by staff mem­bers of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

The United States flew two su­per­sonic bombers over the Korean Penin­sula on Sun­day in a show of force against North Korea af­ter the coun­try’s lat­est in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile test.

The B-1 bombers were es­corted by South Korean fighter jets as they per­formed a low pass over an air base near the South Korean cap­i­tal, 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.

U.S. forces also con­ducted a suc­cess­ful mis­sile-de­fense test over the Pa­cific Ocean, send­ing aloft from Alaska a medium-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile that it de­tected, tracked and in­ter­cepted us­ing the Ter­mi­nal High Al­ti­tude Area De­fense sys­tem.

Nikki Ha­ley, the U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, retweeted a news re­port about the bomber drills and in an­other post said, in part: “Done talk­ing about NKorea. China is aware they must act.”

Amid the show of force by the United States and its al­lies, North Korea said it would re­spond with a “res­o­lute act of jus­tice” if it were pro­voked ei­ther mil­i­tar­ily or eco­nom­i­cally.

“In case the U.S. fails to come to its own senses and con­tin­ues to re­sort to mil­i­tary ad­ven­ture and ‘tough sanc­tions,’ the DPRK will re­spond with its res­o­lute act of jus­tice,” the state-run Korean Cen­tral News Agency quoted a For­eign Min­istry spokesman say­ing, us­ing the ab­bre­vi­a­tion for the North’s of­fi­cial name, the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea.

The spokesman said the United States should “wake up from the fool­ish dream of do­ing any harm to the DPRK” and warned Wash­ing­ton against a pre-emp­tive nu­clear strike.

“If the Yan­kees … dare bran­dish the nu­clear stick on this land again … the DPRK will clearly teach them man­ners with the nu­clear strate­gic force,” the spokesman said.

Frus­tra­tion in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has grown in re­cent days, since Py­ongyang on Fri­day con­ducted its sec­ond suc­cess­ful test of an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile. It landed off the Ja­panese coast, but ex­perts said that if the mis­sile had flown in a lower arc, it could have reached the U.S. main­land.

U.S. of­fi­cials have been try­ing to get China, North Korea’s main trad­ing part­ner and eco­nomic life­line, to ex­ert pres­sure on its neigh­bor. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son has called China and Rus­sia the “prin­ci­pal eco­nomic en­ablers” of North Korea. Although China voted last year for harsh U.N. sanc­tions against North Korea’s lead­ers and state-tied com­pa­nies, it fears that a desta­bi­lized regime would send refugees flood­ing across the bor­der and has urged di­a­logue as the only prag­matic ap­proach.

Trump on Sat­ur­day crit­i­cized China, tweet­ing that “they do NOTH­ING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer al­low this to con­tinue.” And Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, trav­el­ing Sun­day in Es­to­nia, told re­porters that “all op­tions are on the ta­ble.”

“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.

North Korea con­ducted its first nu­clear weapons test in 2006 and has been hit with six sets of U.N. sanc­tions since then. The North claims its weapons are for de­fen­sive pur­poses. But a se­ries of mis­sile tests con­ducted since Kim Jong Un came to power have in­creased con­cern that North Korea may be clos­ing in on the abil­ity to fit a nu­clear weapon on a mis­sile’s nose cone.

“Peo­ple have been warn­ing about the North Korean ICBM for 20 years,” Joseph Cir­in­cione, pres­i­dent of the Ploughshares Fund, a global se­cu­rity foun­da­tion, said Sun­day on ABC’s This Week. “But the wolf is at the door. This a very real threat to the United States.”

Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, D-Calif., speak­ing on CBS’ Face the Na­tion, called North Korea a “clear and present dan­ger” that must be taken se­ri­ously.

“I’m con­vinced that North Korea has never moved at the speed that this leader has to de­velop an ICBM to put solid fuel, to have an in­ter­est­ing launch de­vice, and to have a tra­jec­tory which, as of the lat­est anal­y­sis, would en­able it to go about 6,000 miles and maybe even hit as far east as Chicago,” she said. “We can’t have that.”

Fe­in­stein said she hoped that John Kelly, the in­com­ing White House chief of staff who starts his new po­si­tion to­day, would be able to be­gin ne­go­ti­a­tions with Py­ongyang that would even­tu­ally end its nu­clear pro­gram.

South Korea an­nounced Sat­ur­day that it will start talks with the White House about build­ing more pow­er­ful bal­lis­tic mis­siles ca­pa­ble of strik­ing the North.

Gen. Ter­rence O’Shaugh­nessy, Pa­cific Air Forces com­man­der, called North Korea “the most ur­gent threat to re­gional sta­bil­ity.”

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

AP/South Korea De­fense Min­istry

A U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber (top) flies Sun­day with South Korea fighter jets over Osan Air Base in Pyeong­taek, South Korea.

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