North Korea gets an intimidating demonstration of a U.S. B-52 low-level flight over South Korea, flanked by two fighter planes, as a response to North Korea’s announcement that it has tested a hydrogen bomb.
The B-52 bomber flew very low, about 40 miles south of Seoul, near Osan Air Base, according to USA Today. The bomber, capable of delivering nuclear weapons, flew over South Korea with an F-16 fighter jet from the U.S. and one F-15 fighter jet from South Korea. The message seemed to be clear: the U.S. and South Korea back each other, and the U.S. is still deeply involved with its allies, despite any threats.
Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander U.S. Pacific Command, explained the message in a statement given on Sunday.
“This was a demonstration of the ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies in South Korea, in Japan, and to the defense of the American homeland. North Korea’s nuclear test (last Wednesday) is a blatant violation of its international obligations. U.S. joint military forces in the Indo-Asia-Pacific will continue to work with all of our regional allies and partners to maintain stability and security.”
The Associated Press reported North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, claimed the nuclear test was done as “a self-defensive step” meant to protect North Korea “from the danger of nuclear war caused by the U.S.-led imperialists.”
The low flying B-52 bomber was a sight to behold, but it was not the first time this show of might was done by the U.S. to send North Korea a message. In 2013, after North Korea’s third nuclear test, the U.S. conducted a similar low-flying mission to spread the message that the United States and its allies would not be intimidated.
Thus far, Kim Jong-un and North Korea have not responded to the demonstration over South Korea. However, blasts of propaganda on loudspeakers along the border from South Korea has unsettled Kim Jong-un. North Korea reacted by using its own loudspeakers to try to drown out the noise from South Korea. The leader claims these actions are an act of war.
South Korea has been on high alert since resuming its loud broadcasts into North Korea, as the two sides previously exchanged artillery fire in 2015, causing a break in the broadcasts for the first time in 11 years.
North Korea has been widely criticized for its claim that it has tested a hydrogen bomb. The U.S. claims the test North Korea conducted at Punggye-ri was not powerful enough to be a hydrogen bomb. This is the fourth nuclear test North Korea has done, but it is also the first done after a three-year hiatus.
North Korea’s leader conducted a tour to elevate national pride after the testing of the latest bomb. At the same time, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged China to end its business with North Korea. China is the only major country which backs North Korea and provides aid.
When North Korea gets an intimidating demonstration of U.S. B-52 low-level flying might, it’s unlikely it would stop North Korea from moving on with its nuclear weapons program. It may just reinforce the notion that attacking South Korea or the U.S. would be a bad idea after all, but when you’re known to fly off the handle for loudspeaker propaganda, who knows what could happen with North Korea and its use of nuclear weapons in the future.
[Photo by Jordan Pix/Getty Images]