The United States deployed nuclear-capable bombers and stealth jets for joint drills with South Korea on Tuesday after the North Korean dictator’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, issued fresh threats.
The drills took place near the Korean Peninsula come after Yo-jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, derided doubts about her country´s military and threatened a full-range intercontinental ballistic missile test.
Yo-jong, the younger sister of the North Korean Supreme Leader, used a slew of disparaging terms – such as ‘dog barking,’ ‘rubbish’ and ‘malicious disparaging,’ when she dismissed the outside assessments that cast doubt on North Korea’s spy satellite development and long-range missiles.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the deployment of U.S. B-52 bombers and the F-22 stealth fighter was part of an agreement to protect South Korea with all available means, including nuclear. The drills also included F-35 and F-15 fighter jets from South Korea that took place in the waters southwest of Jeju island.
On Tuesday, Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, used a slew of disparaging terms – such as ‘dog barking, ‘rubbish’ and malicious disparaging’ – when she dismissed the outside assessments that cast doubt on North Korea’s spy satellite development and long-range missiles
The U.S. F-22 jets were deployed in South Korea for the first time in four years and will stay throughout this week for training with South Korean forces, it said.
The drills were held after North Korea claimed to have launched a test satellite for the development of its first military spy satellite, and tested a solid-fueled motor to be used on a more mobile intercontinental ballistic missile in the past several days.
North Korea already has fired a record number of missiles this year as a warning over the previous U.S.-South Korean military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal. There are concerns it may react to the latest aerial training by the allies with a new round of missile tests.
On Sunday, North Korea said its rocket launches were tests of systems for its first military reconnaissance satellite and released two low-resolution photos of South Korean cities as viewed from space.
Some civilian experts in South Korea and elsewhere said the photos were too crude for a surveillance purposes and that the launches were likely a cover for North Korea´s missile technology.
South Korea’s military maintained North Korea fired two medium-range ballistic missiles.
Yo-jong said the test satellite carried a commercial camera because there was no reason to use an expensive, high-resolution camera for a single-shot test. She said North Korea used two old missiles as space launch vehicles.
‘Didn’t they think their assessments are too inadequate and imprudent as they commented on our satellite development capability and related preparations only with two photos that we´ve published in our newspaper,’ Kim Yo Jong, a senior ruling Workers´ Party official, said in a statement carried in state media.
A spy satellite was among several high-tech weapons systems that Kim Jong Un has vowed to acquire to better cope with what he called U.S. hostility.
Multi-warhead missiles, solid-fueled long-range missiles, underwater-launched nuclear missiles, nuclear-powered submarines and hypersonic missiles are additional weapons Kim wants to build.
Some experts say North Korea would eventually use such modern weapons systems and an enlarged nuclear arsenal to pressure the US to win sanctions relief and other concessions.
Kim’s sister dismissed the South Korean government´s assessment that North Korea still has key remaining technological hurdles to overcome for functioning ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland – such as the ability to protect its warheads from the harsh conditions of atmospheric reentry.
She questioned how North Korea could have received data from warheads until they landed at targeted areas in the ocean in previous launches if the country truly lacked reentry technology.
‘I think it´s better for them to stop talking nonsense, behave carefully and think twice,’ she said.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the deployment of U.S. B-52 bombers and the F-22 stealth fighter was part of an agreement to protect South Korea with all available means, including nuclear. The drills also included F-35 and F-15 fighter jets from South Korea that took place in the waters southwest of Jeju island
The drills took place near the Korean Peninsula come after Jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, derided doubts about her country´s military and threatened a full-range intercontinental ballistic missile test
The U.S. F-22 jets were deployed in South Korea for the first time in four years and will stay throughout this week for training with South Korean forces, the ministry said
Photo of fighter jet that took part in the air drills that were taking place near Korean Peninsula
Kim Yo-jong is the younger sister of Kim Jong-un and a high-ranking official of the Workers’ Party of Korea. In 2007, she joined the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and served as a secretariat to her father, Kim Jong-il until his death in 2011
Whether North Korea has a reliable arsenal of nuclear-armed missiles is a source of debate. But North Korea has repeatedly argued its tests of missiles capable of reaching the U.S. and its allies have confirmed warheads can survive atmospheric reentry and other challenges.
All of North Korea´s ICBM tests have been performed at a steep angle to avoid neighboring countries. Some experts have said without the standard-trajectory launch of ICBMs, the reliability of North Korean weapons cannot be guaranteed.
Touching upon those doubts, Jong suggested North Korea might fire an ICBM at a normal trajectory, a launch that could be considered as a much bigger provocation to the U.S. as the weapon would fly toward the Pacific Ocean.
‘I can clear up their doubt about it. They will immediately recognize it in case we launch an ICBM in the way of real angle firing straight off,’ Jong said.
Kim Yo-jong, whose official title is vice department director at the Central Committee of the Workers´ Party, is considered the North´s most influential official after her brother, according to South Korea´s spy service.
Lim Soosuk, a spokesperson at the South Korean Foreign Ministry, called her threats of a standard-trajectory ICBM launch ‘very regrettable.’ He told reporters that North Korea´s nuclear ambitions would only deepen its international isolation and worsen its residents’ economic difficulties.
North Korea is one of the most heavily sanctioned countries in the world due to its nuclear and missile programs. But Kim Yo Jong said Tuesday that North Korea is determined to boost its defenses at all costs.
‘We make it clear that we will not remain a passive onlooker to any attempt to violate a sovereign state´s legitimate right but exercise our bounden rights and retake them at the risk of our lives if necessary,’ she said.