On Saturday, following heightened rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang, U.S. bombers escorted by fighter jets made a provocative flight close to the North Korean east coast in what U.S. officials say is a display of military strength.
The Pentagon elaborated saying that Saturday’s operation showed the seriousness with which Washington took Pyongyang’s “reckless behaviour,” referring to North Korea’s nuclear tests and the overall threat of its nuclear programme. According to Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, the mission was “a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat.” Scott Snyder, director of the programme on U.S.-Korea policy of the Council on Foreign Relations, echoed the Pentagon’s statement saying that the latest move was “designed to send a message to Kim Jong-un that the U.S. wants North Korea to turn in a different direction,” and that “the US has the power to retaliate against him if he persists.”
The B-1B Lancer bombers took off from the US pacific territory of Guam and was escorted by U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle fighters coming from Okinawa, Japan. The flight comes days after heightened rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang, with US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un having traded insults in an almost childish exchange. Trump called Jong-un a “madman” and “little Rocket man” on Friday, a day after the North Korean leader labelled him a “mentally deranged US dotard” in response to Trump saying that Washington would “totally destroy” the country if it threatened the U.S. or its allies. It is clear that as this provocative exchange continues, both leaders are only getting even more heated and uninhibited, causing the threats against each other and the tension between them to only escalate.
In fact, later on Saturday, North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho said that Trump’s remarks against Pyongyang and Jong-un will make the U.S. mainland an “inevitable” target for rocket attacks. He announced at the United Nations General Assembly, an annual gathering of world leaders, that “through such a prolonged and arduous struggle, now we are finally only a few steps away from the final gate of completion of the state nuclear force.”
North Korea, a country which has made militarism a central part of its national ideology, says it needs a strong nuclear deterrent to protect itself from the U.S. As such, Pyongyang has launched dozens of missiles this year and has most recently conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on September 3rd. The country has also threatened to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific, which would no doubt be disastrous if carried through.
It is clear that the flight made by U.S. bombers and fighter jets is an extension of the provocative exchange between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un. If this string of provocation and threats continues, there is no doubt that the tension between the two countries will escalate quickly into an immense conflict, perhaps even to a point where there may be a nuclear war. Unless the leaders of both countries can sit down in a civil manner, this issue will undoubtedly remain unresolved and will only grow worse by the day.
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