On Monday, the B-52 bomber was used in the latest of a series of joint training exercises between the U.S. and South Korea over the Korean Peninsula. Also, their big field exercises will start up again at the end of this month.
Kim Yo Jong didn’t give any details in her speech, but North Korea has a history of responding to military drills between the US and South Korea by launching test missiles because it sees them as a dress rehearsal for an invasion.
Kim Yo Jong said in a statement that was shown on state TV: “We keep an eye on the constant military actions of the U.S. forces and the South Korean puppet military, and we are always ready to take appropriate, quick, and overwhelming action at any time if we think it is necessary.”
She said that the United States and South Korea’s “demonstrative military measures” and “all kinds of hyperbole,” which go so far out of hand that they can’t be ignored, make it clear that North Korea will be forced to do something to deal with them.
North Korea’s Korean People’s Army General Command announced several hours after Kim’s address that it had put its front-line artillery units on notice and increased surveillance because “the enemy” had conducted a live-fire artillery rehearsal in the South Korean border town of Paju on Tuesday morning.
The South Korean exercise, which the General Staff said involved the firing of about 30 rounds, was called a “very grave military provocation” by the North Korean government, which demanded that the South stop all military exercises along the border right away.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said that North Korea’s claim was “absurd” and that no South Korean artillery had been fired at the shooting range that North Korea had mentioned.
After Monday’s drill, the South Korean Defense Ministry said the presence of the B-52 showed that the two countries could stop North Korea from attacking. This year, the US has sent bombers with the B-1B designation to the peninsula more than once. Last month, officials from the U.S. and South Korea met in Washington for a joint exercise to practice how to respond to a possible nuclear attack from North Korea.
Last Friday, the US and South Korea said they would start doing their big springtime field exercises again, which they hadn’t done since 2018. From March 13–23, they will also do computer-simulated command post-training.
Since 2018, the allies have stopped or cut back on some of their regular drills to protect against the COVID-19 virus and help the talks with North Korea, which have been going nowhere for a long time. Last year, North Korea fired off a record number of missiles and openly threatened to use its nuclear weapons in future fights with its rivals. Since then, the two countries have been slowly starting up joint drills again.
In a separate statement on Tuesday, the North Korean Foreign Ministry called the U.S. B-52 bomber’s flyover a reckless provocation that dragged the situation on the Korean Peninsula “deeper into the bottomless quagmire.” The statement says that if military tensions between the United States and South Korea keep getting worse, “there is no guarantee that there would not be deadly physical combat.”
When things are bad between the US and South Korea, North Korea often says things that make things worse. Observers think that North Korea might do a nuclear test or launch a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the U.S. mainland.
Kim Yo Jong said last month that the North would move its target practice to the Pacific Ocean. She gave the warning on Tuesday, saying that if the US tried to stop a North Korean ICBM, it would be seen as a sign of war. She talked about news stories from South Korea that said the US was ready to shoot down a North Korean ICBM if it was tested over the Pacific.
So far, all of North Korea’s confirmed tests of ICBMs have been done at very steep angles, with the missiles landing in the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
On Monday, the South Korean government did something that many people saw as an attempt to improve security ties between Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington by easing a contentious historical disagreement with Japan. The action includes a plan to pay Koreans who were forced to work during Tokyo’s colonial rule with money from Korea, instead of making Japanese companies pay for the compensation.
Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, praised the leaders of South Korea and Japan on Monday, saying that they realized the “potential of partnership in the future is more significant.”
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