US flies stealth bombers over South Korea

2013-03-28 10:06

Seoul - The United States said two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers flew "deterrence" missions over South Korea on Thursday, defying apocalyptic threats of retribution from North Korea against ongoing war games.

The deployment of the stealth bombers was clearly meant to deliver a potent message to Pyongyang about the US commitment to defending South Korea against any aggression as military tensions on the Korean peninsula soar.

It came shortly after the North severed its last-remaining military hotline with South Korea and put its rocket units on combat status with a threat to target US bases in the Pacific region.

The two B-2s, from Whiteman Air Force base in Missouri, flew the 20 800km round-trip in a "single continuous mission", dropping dummy ordnance on a target range in the South, the US military said in a statement.

"This ... demonstrates the United States' ability to conduct long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will," the statement said.

The bombers were participating in South Korean-US military exercises that have incensed North Korea, which has threatened to unleash a second Korean War and launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes on South Korea and the US mainland.

US, South in new pact

"The B-2 bomber is an important element of America's enduring and robust extended deterrence capability," the US statement said.

Earlier on Thursday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told his South Korean counterpart that Seoul could rely on all the military protection the United States has to offer - nuclear, conventional and missile defence.

The US and South Korean militaries signed a new pact last week, providing for a joint military response to even low-level provocation by North Korea.

The use of the stealth bombers is sure to prompt a fresh outcry from Pyongyang, which has already denounced the use of US B-52 bombers in the joint exercises as a rehearsal for a nuclear strike.

While most analysts have dismissed the bulk of the North Korean threats as rhetorical bluster, there are concerns that even a minor incident could swiftly escalate in such a volatile environment.

In its latest protest at the military drills, North Korea announced on Wednesday that it was severing its military hotline with the South, saying it was no longer needed given that "war may break out any moment".

Communication line severed

The joint drills are held every year and are regularly condemned by Pyongyang as rehearsals for invasion.

Their staging this year came as tensions were already riding high following the North's long-range rocket launch in December and its nuclear test last month.

The North has severed the military hotline before, most recently in March 2009, again in protest at the annual South Korean-US military exercises. In that case, the line was reconnected less than two weeks later.

Several weeks ago North Korea severed a Red Cross hotline that had been used for government-to-government communications.

Among other things, the military hotline was used on a daily basis to organise movement in and out of the Kaesong industrial complex - a joint South-North Korean venture established in 2004.

The South Koreans used the line to give the North the names of those seeking entry to Kaesong, guaranteeing their safety as they crossed one of the world's most heavily militarised borders.

The crossing was operating normally on Thursday, officials said, adding that they had had used a civilian link to get the names to the North Korean guards.

North Korea has always been wary of allowing crises in inter-Korean relations to affect the zone, which lies 10km inside its side of the border and is a crucial hard-currency earner for the communist state.

  • bradley.kecskes - 2013-03-28 10:56

    "I will steal the diamonds from your eyes,I will take your promises"-B2 Bomber

  • Dean Hart - 2013-03-28 10:59

    When America flexes its muscles, better tread lightly! Speciality when they flexing them with B-52

  • Marius Conradie - 2013-03-28 11:03

    They are so against aparent bad guys having nukes, but are ready to use nukes (again) on another....

      Willem Steyn - 2013-03-28 11:07

      Yes Marius, but the argument is about idiots like North Korea having nukes - and people like that prepared to use it regardless of the consequences. It's like a baby handling a loaded pistol.

      Marius Conradie - 2013-03-28 11:25

      So what your saying is that it's ok for them to be judge, jury and executioner? The day we become communists and a threat to them, they can just come nuke us too. Whether me and you are communists wont matter because of our leader... Take the gun from the baby and kill the baby if you must, but dont nuke the whole country is what I'm saying.

      bradley.kecskes - 2013-03-28 11:30

      Marius..with great power(nukes) comes great responsibility..(not NK)You have to fight fire with do not see great nations like Russia or America going around threatening to nuke every one.

      Marius Conradie - 2013-03-28 11:47

      It is stupid and irresponsible of any country to have them or threatening to use them. Now they have both done that, so both countries are irresponsible. NK aint threatening to nuke everyone...

      trotse.boer.5 - 2013-03-28 13:05

      I think what the US has is very good, I am glad the US are in charge of this because if not NK would be causing havok everywhere. What you are saying is why do Police have Guns if they are against guns??? why put the police in charge of upholding the law..... come on man think about it.

      David Van Schalkwyk - 2013-03-28 14:49

      So what you saying is that everyone must get rid of their Nukes. Ok so everyone does, then you get a country like NK that desides NO I want a Nuke because I dont like the USA so the make a few Nukes. Now that they have Nukes who is going to stop them from just bombing whoever they want???? As Bradley pointed out when last did you hear USA or Russia say they were going to Nuke anyone?

      Marius Conradie - 2013-03-28 14:56

      trotse.boer.5, that is a pretty stupid statement that NK would cause havoc everwhere. The example of guns is not valid either. Nukes and chemical weapons are not the same as guns at all. America has enough fire power and technical ability and don't need to resort to nukes. and since when is the police against guns. but let me guess, your probably anti gun. Everyone has the right to bare arms to protect themselves. As thus, every country has the right to nukes to defend themselves. America is NOT the world government nor the world police, doesn't matter how much you want them to be or how much they believe it. Why are you all so super pro America anyways??? Thy aren't looking out for us, they are only looking out for themselves. They are not there to protect SK. They are there to protect themselves. So, you think about it. We all know NK will be crushed if a war breaks out, it's obvious. They are the weaker nation with no-one backing them up. And they know it 2, that is why they and China are waging Cyber war lol and USA and Russia dont need to say they gonne nuke anyone, cuz everyone knows they will.

      Inky Pinky - 2013-03-29 17:13

      @ Jadool. The answer to your question is simple. To envade Japan the US estimated it would result in 500000 allied casualties and dropping the bomb on the same country that bombed Pearl Harbour resulted in zero allied casualties.

  • Willem Steyn - 2013-03-28 11:04

    Why not just flatten this little up-start country and bury these communists for ever?

      Avremel Niselow - 2013-03-28 11:50

      What an idiotic comment by goyougoodthing.

      Avremel Niselow - 2013-03-28 12:06

      Israel is not communist and has never threatened anyone with nukes, thus your analogy is fundamentally flawed.

      goyougoodthing - 2013-03-28 13:33

      Israel doesn't threaten anyone with nukes because its lapdog the USA does.

      Avremel Niselow - 2013-03-28 13:50

      So you admit that your analogy was incorrect?

  • Christopher S Hudson - 2013-03-28 11:40

    Willem Steyn - You do know that inocent people live in that "up-start" country? The world is trying not to kill them unnessesarlily, its people like you nukes should be kept from.

  • Terence Wessels - 2013-03-28 14:05

    US won't strike unless NK provoke and strike first. If they are that stupid, then the US will flatten them. Fact.

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