US National Security Adviser HR McMaster and his South Korean counterpart have discussed moving B-1B strategic bombers and F-35 stealth fighter jets to South Korea following North Korea’s Tuesday launch of a ballistic missile that overflew northern Japan.
Korea JoongAng Daily says Chung Eui-yong, the chief of South Korea’s National Security Office, and McMaster held a 15-minute phone conversation at 8:50 a.m., a few hours after the North Korean missile test that took place shortly before 6 a.m. on Tuesday.
“The two discussed the deployment of US strategic assets to South Korea, “along with a wide scope of ways to effectively deter North Korea,” JoongAng said, quoting a statement from the Blue House in Seoul.
JoongAng, citing military officials in South Korea, said the US strategic assets could include B-1B bombers, older B-52 bombers, and F-35 stealth fighter jets. There was also discussion of deploying Aegis-equipped destroyers, nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers to South Korea, the newspaper said.
No B-1B bombers, F-35s or B-52s are currently based in South Korea. The nearest B-1Bs are at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
Seoul is also talking with Washington about revising Korea-US missile guidelines that prohibit South Korea from developing a ballistic missile with a range of over 800 kilometers and a payload of more than 500 kilograms.
JoongAng says the South Koreans want to raise the payload cap to 1,000 kilograms.