US Bomber Flies Over South Korea as North Celebrates Bomb Test
A US B-52 bomber flew low over South Korea, a clear show of force following North Korea’s nuclear test.
A powerful US B-52 bomber flew low over South Korea on Sunday, a clear show of force from the US as a Cold War-style standoff deepened between its ally Seoul and North Korea following Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test.
North Korea will read the fly-over of a bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons as a threat. Any hint of America’s nuclear power enrages Pyongyang, which links its own pursuit of atomic weapons to what it sees as past nuclear-backed moves by the US to topple its authoritarian government.
The B-52 was joined by South Korean F-15 and US F-16 fighters, and returned to its base in Guam after the flight, the US military said.
Adm Harry B. Harris Jr., Commander US Pacific Command
This was a demonstration of the ironclad US commitment to our allies in South Korea, in Japan, and to the defense of the American homeland. North Korea’s nuclear test is a blatant violation of its international obligations.
The B-52 flight was followed by a victory tour by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to celebrate the country’s widely disputed claim of a hydrogen bomb test. There was no immediate reaction from North Korea’s state media to the B-52 fly-over, which also happened after North Korea’s third nuclear test in 2013.
Kim’s first public comments about last week’s test came in a visit to the country’s military headquarters, where he called the explosion “a self-defensive step” meant to protect the region “from the danger of nuclear war caused by the US-led imperialists,” according to a dispatch Sunday from state-run Korean Central News Agency.
During his tour, Kim posed for photos with leading military officials in front of statues of the two members of his family who led the country previously — Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung.
In the wake of the test on Wednesday, the two Koreas have settled into the kind of Cold War-era standoff that has defined their relationship over the past seven decades.
Responding to the North’s bomb test, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged China, the North’s only major ally and biggest aid provider, to end “business as usual” with North Korea.
Diplomats at a UN Security Council emergency session pledged to swiftly pursue new sanctions. For current sanctions and any new penalties to work, better cooperation and stronger implementation from China is seen as key.
It may take weeks or longer to confirm or refute the North’s claim that it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, which would mark a major and unanticipated advance for its still-limited nuclear arsenal.
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