South Korea said Monday it was discussing the further deployment of U.S. “strategic assets” following a flyover by a U.S. B-52 bomber in response to North Korea’s latest nuclear test.
U.S. forces in South Korea were also put on their highest level of alert Monday in case of any provocation from North Korea, following last week’s nuclear test. Cmdr. Curtis Scaparrotti of the U.N. Command/Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea, made the order during a visit to the Osan Air Base, operated jointly by the U.S. and South Korea, a USFK official said.
The move came as Seoul announced additional restrictions on the movement of its citizens to the jointly run Kaesong industrial park, just a few kilometers over the border inside North Korea.
The South has taken an uncompromising stance in the wake of Wednesday’s test, urging the international community to impose harsh sanctions on Pyongyang, and resuming high-decibel propaganda broadcasts into North Korea.
In a show of strength on Sunday, a B-52 Stratofortress — flanked by South Korean F-15 fighter jets and U.S. F-16 planes — flew over Osan Air Base, some 70 km (45 miles) south of the inter-Korean border.
The U.S. military said the flyby was a demonstration of the “ironclad” commitment to its military alliance with South Korea, and a direct response to the North’s fourth nuclear test.
“South Korea and the U.S. are in close consultations about additional deployment of other strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula,” Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a regular press briefing in Seoul.
U.S. and South Korean media reports have speculated that the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier U.S. Ronald Reagan — currently based in Japan — B-2 stealth bombers and F-22 stealth fighter jets, are among the deployments being considered.
Source and image: Japan Times