US flies nuclear-capable bombers and stealth planes as show of force against North Korea

The United States flew nuclear-capable bombers and advanced stealth jets in a show of force against North Korea on Tuesday, when the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ridiculed doubts about her country’s military and threatened a full-range ICBM test.

A B-52 fighter jet was part of the United States’ joint exercises with South Korea on Tuesday, December 20, 2022.

Joint Chiefs of Staff

The deployment of US B-52 bombers and F-22 stealth fighter jets for joint drills with South Korean fighter jets was part of an agreement to protect South Korea with all available means, including nuclear, the Defense Ministry said. from South Korea.

The drills, which also included South Korean F-35 and F-15 fighter jets, were held in the waters southwest of Jeju Island, the ministry said. The US F-22 jets have been deployed to South Korea for the first time in four years and will remain throughout this week to train with South Korean forces, he said.

The drills came after North Korea claimed to have launched a test satellite for the development of its first military spy satelliteand tested a solid fuel engine for use in a more mobile ICBM in recent days.

North Korea has already fired a record number of missiles this year as a warning about previous US and South Korean military exercises it views as an invasion drill. There are concerns that it could react to the latest allied air training with a new round of missile tests.

Earlier Tuesday, Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, used a series of derisive terms, including “malicious contempt,” “trash” and “barking dog,” as she dismissed outside assessments casting doubt on China’s spy satellite development. North Korea and the long-range missiles.

North Korea said its rocket launches on Sunday were systems tests for its first military reconnaissance satellite and released two low-resolution photos of South Korean cities seen from space. Some civilian experts in South Korea and elsewhere said the photos were too crude for surveillance purposes and the launches were likely a cover for North Korea’s missile technology. The South Korean military claimed that North Korea fired two medium-range ballistic missiles.

Kim Yo Jong said the test satellite carried a commercial camera because there was no reason to use an expensive, high-resolution camera for a one-shot test. She said that North Korea used two old missiles as space launch vehicles.

“Didn’t you think your assessments are too inadequate and reckless when you commented on our satellite development capability and preparations related to just two photos we have published in our newspaper,” Kim Yo Jong, a senior Workers’ Party official in power, he said in a statement broadcast in state media.

A spy satellite was among several high-tech weapons systems that Kim Jong Un promised to acquire to better deal with what he called US hostility. Other weapons that Kim wants to build are multi-warhead missiles, long-range solid-fuel missiles, underwater-launched nuclear missiles, nuclear-powered submarines, and hypersonic missiles. Some experts say North Korea would eventually use such modern weapons systems and an expanded nuclear arsenal to pressure the US into winning sanctions relief and other concessions.

Kim’s sister rejected the South Korean government’s assessment that North Korea still has key technological hurdles to overcome for ICBMs to work and reach the mainland United States, such as the ability to protect its warheads from harsh atmospheric re-entry conditions.

Kim Yo Jong questioned how North Korea could have received data from warheads until they landed in specific areas of the ocean in previous launches if the country truly lacked re-entry technology.

“I think you better stop talking nonsense, be careful and think twice,” he said.

Whether North Korea has a reliable arsenal of nuclear-armed missiles is a source of debate. But North Korea has repeatedly argued that its tests of missiles capable of reaching the United States and its allies have confirmed that the warheads can survive re-entry and other challenges.

All of North Korea’s ICBM tests have been conducted at a steep angle to avoid neighboring countries. Some experts have said that without the standard trajectory launch of ICBMs, the reliability of North Korea’s weapons cannot be guaranteed.

Addressing those doubts, Kim Yo Jong suggested that North Korea could fire an ICBM on a normal trajectory, a launch that could be seen as a much greater provocation to the United States, as the weapon would fly into the Pacific Ocean.

“I can clear your doubts about it. You will immediately recognize it in case we launch an ICBM in the path of the actual firing angle,” Kim Yo Jong said.

Kim, whose official title is deputy department head in the Workers’ Party Central Committee, is considered the most influential official in the North after her brother, according to South Korea’s spy service.

Lim Soosuk, a spokesman for the South Korean Foreign Ministry, called his threats to launch a standard trajectory ICBM “very regrettable.” He told reporters that North Korea’s nuclear ambitions would only deepen its international isolation and worsen economic hardship for its residents.

North Korea is one of the most sanctioned countries in the world due to its nuclear and missile programs. But Kim Yo Jong said Tuesday that North Korea is determined to bolster its defenses at all costs.

“We made it clear that we will not remain passive bystanders to any attempt to violate the legitimate right of a sovereign state, but will exercise our fundamental rights and recover them at the risk of our lives if necessary,” he said.

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