The South Korean Defense Ministry said that a U.S. B-52 bomber, C-17 and South Korean Air Force F-35 fighter jets flew over the Korean Peninsula during a joint air drill in South Korea, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022.
The United States flew nuclear-capable bombers and advanced stealth jets in a show of force against North Korea on Tuesday, as the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un derided doubts about her country’s military and threatened a full-range intercontinental ballistic missile test.
The deployment of the bombers and stealth fighter jets for joint drills with South Korean warplanes was part of a pledge to protect South Korea with all available means, said South Korea’s Defense Ministry, which suggested that included the use of nuclear weapons.
In its statement Tuesday, South Korea’s defense ministry mentioned that agreement, noting that the allies will “continue to strengthen the combined defense posture” of the South Korea-U.S. alliance in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
Earlier this week, North Korea launched a pair of medium-range ballistic missiles, which it said were part of an “important final-stage test” that will soon result in the country’s first spy satellite.
In its report describing the test, North Korea’s state news agency published a pair of low-resolution, black-and-white images of the South Korean cities of Seoul and Incheon, presumably taken from the mock satellite launched during the test.
When Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks met with the South Korean Vice Minister of National Defense Shin Beomchul at the Pentagon in September, the two leaders reaffirmed the importance of the alliance between the two nations and the mutual commitment to maintaining a strong combined defense posture.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III then welcomed Republic of Korea Minister of National Defense Lee Jung-Sup to the Pentagon in November, for the 54th United States (U.S.)-Republic of Korea (ROK) Security Consultative Meeting, which included delegations comprised of senior defense and foreign affairs officials.
North Korea threatened Tuesday to take a “resolute and decisive military step” against Japan while it slammed Tokyo’s adoption of a national security strategy as an attempt to turn the country into “an offensive military giant.”
The North’s statement came four days after Japan announced a security strategy that includes a counterstrike capability against enemy targets and doubles its military spending to gain a more offensive footing against threats from China and North Korea.
The North’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Japan’s push to acquire counterstrike capability has nothing to do with self-defense but is a clear attempt to acquire “preemptive attack capability meant to launch strikes on other countries’ territories.”
“Japan’s foolish attempt to satiate its black-hearted greed — the building up of its military invasion capability under the pretext of (North Korea’s) legitimate exercise of the right to self-defense — cannot be justified and tolerated,” an unidentified ministry spokesperson said in a statement carried by state media.