News / Asia

    In Show of Force, US Bomber Trains Over S. Korea

    United States B-52 bomber, as shown in the above photo, is training over South Korea. (Courtesy - U.S. Air Force)
    United States B-52 bomber, as shown in the above photo, is training over South Korea. (Courtesy - U.S. Air Force)
    VOA News
    The United States has run its second training mission this month of the nuclear-capable B-52 bomber over the Korean peninsula in a show of military force following North Korea's threats of a nuclear war.

    The U.S. Forces Korea says the B-52 Stratofortress practiced dropping bombs on targets at a range in South Korea, Tuesday. It also released several photos of the aircraft, along with the warning that U.S. and South Korean forces are "battle-ready and trained to employ air power to deter aggression" and defend Seoul against any attack.

    U.S. officials describe the mission, and an earlier one conducted March 8, as a "routine" part of annual joint military drillswith Seoul. But they have also been explicit that the flights are meant to send a strong message to Pyongyang, which has threatened a preemptive nuclear attack on the U.S. following U.N.  sanctions the North's latest nuclear test.

    On Monday, Pentagon spokesperson George Little on Monday said the flights send a "very strong signal" the U.S. is firmly committed to its alliance with Seoul. He says the United States is "drawing attention to the fact we have extended deterrence capabilities that we believe are important in the wake of recent North Korean rhetoric."

    Carl Baker, with the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum think-tank, says he is certain the North Koreans are paying attention to the drills and are "very familiar" with what the B-52 flyovers represent.

    "The United States is trying to send a very strong signal to North Korea that it is not going to bend;  that it is not going to go back to negotiations just because North Korea has expressed commitment to using nuclear weapons," said Baker.

    But, although North Korea appears to be getting the message, it has not shown signs of backing down. A foreign ministry spokesperson in the North promised Wednesday a "strong military counteraction" if the U.S. continues the B-52 flyovers. In comments carried in the official Korean Central News Agency, he calls the flights an "unpardonable provocation" and says the situation is "inching close to the brink of war."

    Leonid Petrov, a Korea researcher at the Australian National University, says he expects more of that kind of talk from North Korea, as a result of the B-52 missions and corresponding war drills. He thinks the exercises are further destabilizing the situation, leaving Pyongyang with little choice but to continue developing nuclear weapons to survive.

    "I think it's pretty understandable that the people of Korea are quite indignant at the resumption of this flight and the regular U.S.-South Korean military drills," said Petrov. "We know that strategic bombers have been used by the U.S. military in the North Pacific to scare North Korea."

    Daniel Pinkston, an analyst for the International Crisis Group, says he is not sure whether the projection of American military power will be successful in reducing tensions on the peninsula. But, he says demonstrating U.S. military superiority will likely succeed in deterring North Korea from carrying out a nuclear attack.

    "In the past, when [the North Koreans] have embarked upon military adventurism, it has been at times when the opposing forces are off-guard or when the North Koreans view them as being weak," said Pinkston. "So, I think these types of exercises and training sends a very clear signal that deters and greatly reduces the likelihood of North Korea lashing out in violent ways as they have done on numerous occasions in the past century."

    Pinkston says North Korea - which operates with the songun, or military first, ideology - is "very very cognizant" of the military balance between it and Washington.

    "When they know they will take a severe beating, then they will behave. But, when you are weak, they won't behave - then they will use violence and force to push their agenda," he added.

    The U.S.-South Korean military drills, known as Foal Eagle, began March 1 and are scheduled to last until the end of April. A separate, computer-simulated round of drills, known as Key Resolve, began on March 11 and last through Thursday.

    North Korea had threatened military action if the United States continues with the computer-based drills. Washington has disregarded the threat and proceeded as normal.   Although Pyongyang claims to have scrapped the 60-year armistice deal that ended the Korean War, it is yet to follow through on its threats of violence.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora