The United States and its ally South Korea were discussing on Monday sending more strategic U.S. weapons to the Korean peninsula, a day after a U.S. B-52 bomber flew over South Korea in response to North Korea’s nuclear test last week.
North Korea said it set off a hydrogen bomb last Wednesday, its fourth nuclear test since 2006, angering China, the North’s main ally, and the United States, which said it doubted the device was a hydrogen bomb.
In a show of force and support for allies in the region, the United States on Sunday sent a nuclear-capable B-52 bomber based in Guam on a flight over South Korea.
North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers’ Party, said the United States was bringing the situation to the brink of war.
South Korean media said the United States may send to South Korea B-2 bombers, nuclear-powered submarines and F-22 stealth fighter jets.
A South Korean defense ministry spokesman declined to give details.
“The United States and South Korea are continuously and closely having discussions on additional deployment of strategic assets,” the spokesman, Kim Min-seok, said.
China called for all sides to avoid raising tension.
“Safeguarding the peace and stability of northeast Asia accords with all parties’ interests,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in response to a question about the U.S. B-52 flight.
“We hope all parties can maintain restraint, proceed cautiously, and avoid successively escalating tensions.”
‘HIGHEST LEVEL READINESS’
The chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff warned that North Korea was likely to carry out further “sudden provocations”, a South Korean defense ministry official said.
The commander of the 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea, General Curtis Scaparrotti, urged them to be vigilant.
“I want you to maintain the highest level readiness from a long-term view as joint military exercises are coming up,” Scaparrotti told U.S. and South Korean forces on a visit to a base, a U.S. military official said.
He was apparently referring to joint annual military exercises that usually begin in February or March and invariably provoke an angry reaction from North Korea. Read more