By Jack Kim and Kaori Kaneko
SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – South Korean and Japanese jets joined exercises with two supersonic U.S. B-1B bombers above and near the Korean peninsula on Thursday, two days after North Korea fired a missile over Japan, sharply raising tension.
The drills, involving four U.S. stealth F-35B jets as well as South Korean and Japanese fighter jets, came at the end of annual joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises focused mainly on computer simulations.
“North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” said General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, who made an unscheduled visit to Japan.
“This complex mission clearly demonstrates our solidarity with our allies and underscores the broadening cooperation to defend against this common regional threat. Our forward deployed force will be the first to the fight, ready to deliver a lethal response at a moment’s notice if our nation calls.”
North Korea has made no secret of its intention to develop the knowhow to launch a nuclear-tipped missile at the United States and has recently threatened the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. It denounced the U.S. exercises in traditionally robust fashion.
“The U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet forces do not hide their bellicose nature, claiming that the exercises are to ‘counter’ the DPRK’s ballistic rocket launches and nuclear weapons development,” the North’s KCNA news agency said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
“But the wild military acts of the enemies are nothing but the rash act of those taken aback by the intermediate-to-long range strategic ballistic rocket launching drill conducted by the army of the DPRK as the first military operation in the Pacific.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has warned North Korea it would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States and that…