US bombers fly by North Korea

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/24 23:43:39

Show of force escalates tensions, imperils neighboring countries

The US Air Force handout photo obtained on Saturday shows an Air Force B-1B Lancer getting fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker near the East China Sea, on September 18. US bombers accompanied by fighter jets flew off the east coast of North Korea on Saturday in a show of force designed to project American military power in the face of Pyongyang's weapons programs, the Pentagon said. Photo: AFP

US bombers and flight escorts flew over international waters off the east coast of North Korea in a show of American military might against Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program on Saturday.

The US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flown Saturday are based in Guam and were accompanied by F-15C Eagle fighter escorts from Okinawa, Japan, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

The US is prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend itself, White was quoted as saying by AFP.

"This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat," she said.

The US military demonstration was unlike their usual military drills: it was a show of force, Lü Chao, an expert on Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

But it did not mean the US intended war, he said. It was only a response that reflected that the US Congress' wish to use hard-line measures to deal with the North Korean crisis, he explained.

Although the US needs the UN and nearby countries' approval and agreement to start a war, the chances that it will take extreme military measures against the North are increasing, Jin Qiangyi, director of Yanbian University's Asia Research Center, told the Global Times Sunday.

"If a war breaks out, the US has to be prepared to destroy all North Korea's firing points within an hour or otherwise the outcome would be uncontrollable. The US is preparing for this but it's not ready," he said.

Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if the US was forced to defend itself or its allies against a North Korean attack.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said that "insults" by Trump - who was, he said, "mentally deranged and full of megalomania" - were an "irreversible mistake making it inevitable" that North Korean rockets would hit the US mainland.

North Korea also threatened to detonate a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific.

Lü said China should be on alert for a possible war. "We won't allow any provocation to regional security," he said.

The war would bring catastrophic consequences: not only large numbers of North Korean refugees but even millions of Chinese refugees because of nuclear fallout, Jin noted.

Wrong assumptions

A 3.4-magnitude earthquake rocked North Korea on Saturday, with many suspecting that the North had conducted another nuclear test.

But the China Earthquake Networks Center said after studies of the infrasonic records that the zero-depth quake was natural, the Xinhua News Agency reported. South Korea's weather agency also said the quake was natural, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

North Korea is trying to find solutions by pressuring both China and the US. It strongly believes the US now won't take military action and it is making a final spurt to improve its nuclear capability, Jin said.

North Korea wrongly assumes it can only maintain its security if it is armed with nuclear weapons, Lü said.


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