North Korea crisis: U.S. bombers drill over Korean peninsula

Bombs land on the Pilsung Range in South Korea on Wednesday during the latest show of force by the United States South Korea and Japan against North Korea

To this end, North Korea is signaling that it may soon turn the Pacific Ocean into its own ballistic missile training ground and make its launches over Japan an accepted norm.

U.S. Marine Corps F-35B fighter jet drop GBU-32 JDAM as they fly over South Korea.

Discussed, according to the statement, were the "grave threat" posed by the North's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capabilities, as well as coordination measures between the two countries in response to recent North Korean missile tests.

On their way to join the South Korean jets, the U.S. warplanes flew together with two F-15s from Japan's Self-Defense Forces over waters near the southwestern Japanese island of Kyushu, the U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement.

They conducted a mock bombing drill, which simulated a surgical strike of key enemy facilities, over the Pilsung Range in the eastern province of Gangwon.

This is unlikely to affect North Korea, says Joel S. Wit, a senior fellow at the U.S. -Korea Institute at SAIS and senior research fellow at the Columbia University Weatherhead Institute for East Asian Studies.

Won Kyu-wang, a 49-year-old office worker in Goyang, west of Seoul, said that he is not anxious because the North's provocations appear to ultimately target the USA, not the South, and mostly aim to raise the stakes in future nuclear negotiations with the U.S.

"All possible sanctions aimed at preventing North Korea from using a map of external relations for the development of missile and nuclear programs banned by the [UN] Security Council, all conceivable and even unimaginable sanctions, which have little to do directly with these areas of DPRK's [the Democratic People's Republic of Korea] activities, have already been adopted by the Security Council".

The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the 11-day joint military exercises the United States and South Korea completed Thursday, involved tens of thousands of US and South Korean troops, although the exercises were conducted largely through computer simulations.

Their effectiveness hinges largely on China, which accounts for 90% of trade with North Korea but is suspected of failing to enforce past United Nations measures.

There has been no news of the oil embargo moving forward, but it was allegedly on the table during an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on August 30, held one day after North Korean communist dictator Kim Jong Un fired a rocket over Japan.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Friday urged China and Russian Federation to play a role in increasing pressure on North Korea to stop its provocations.

But hours later, when asked by reporters if the United States was out of diplomatic solutions with North Korea, the US secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, replied: "No".

On Monday, North Korea, which sees the exercises as preparations for invasion, raised the stakes in its stand-off with the United States and its allies by firing an intermediate-range missile over Japan.

China repeated a call on Thursday for restraint by all parties. "It's real, and is an enormous and serious issue that directly involves the safety of people from both the north and south of the peninsula, as well as peace and stability of the entire region". It also flight-tested a pair of developmental ICBMs in July. The action was in response to a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile launch. On a recent trip to the region, he said the military's main goal is supporting US efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.


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