North Korea claims the right to shoot down American B-1B heavy bombers
The US military flew two strategic bombers over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force yesterday as Donald Trump met defence chiefs to discuss how to respond to North Korea following the reported hacking of wartime operational plans.
The bombers took off from the US Pacific territory of Guam, before entering South Korean airspace and conducting firing exercises over the East Sea and Yellow Sea, South Korea’s military said.
The training was part of a programme of “extended deterrence” against North Korea, it added.
The exercises came hours after a South Korean lawmaker claimed North Korean hackers had stolen a large cache of military documents from his country, “including a plan to assassinate North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, and wartime contingency plans drawn up by the US and South Korea”, reports the BBC.
“The plan is fundamental to conducting a war operation, and leakage of even a small part of it is very critical,” Rhee Cheol-hee, of the ruling Democratic Party, told Bloomberg. “How could we fight against an enemy and win a war if it’s already aware of our strategy?”
A Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Robert Manning, said he was aware of the report, but declined to confirm or deny any aspect of it.
“I can assure you that we are confident in the security of our operations plans and our ability to deal with any threat from North Korea,” Manning said.
“I am not going to address whether or not that [hack] has occurred. What I am going to tell you is that the [South Korea]-US alliance, that bilateral entity, is there to deal with those types of situation and safeguard against them.”
South Korean and US government officials “have been raising their guard against more North Korean provocations with the approach of the 72nd anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s ruling party”, says Reuters.
President Trump hosted a discussion on options to respond to any North Korean aggression, or, if necessary, to prevent Pyongyang from threatening the US and its allies with nuclear weapons, the White House said in a statement.
Meanwhile, China – North Korea’s closest ally and trading partner – expressed alarm at how far the rhetoric on both sides had gone, warning of the increased risk of a “fatal misjudgement”.
“The international community won’t accept North Korea as a nuclear power. North Korea needs time and proof to believe that abandoning its nuclear programme will contribute to its own political and economic advantage. This positive process is worth a try,” said an editorial in the state mouthpiece Global Times, following yesterday’s military exercises.
“War would be a nightmare for the Korean Peninsula and surrounding regions. We strongly urge North Korea and the US to stop their bellicose posturing and seriously think about a peaceful solution,” it said.