In a bid to intimidate North Korea and draw attention to the US military’s capabilities, American B-52 bombers – which are capable of carrying out nuclear strikes – are practicing over South Korea.
The move is in response to rising tensions after North Korea conducted its third successful nuclear test last month. This month’s first B-52 flights occurred on March 8, and the aircraft are scheduled to fly over South Korea again today.
“We’re drawing attention to the fact that we have extended deterrence capabilities that we believe are important to demonstrate in the wake of recent North Korean rhetoric,” US Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a public statement.
“We are in the midst right now of sending a very strong signal that we have a firm commitment to the alliance with our Republic of Korea allies,” Little added.“This is a stepped-up training effort to demonstrate our resolve to protect South Korea.”
Tensions in the Korean peninsula are the highest they have been since 2010, Bloomberg News reports. The B-52 bombers, which were initially built to carry nuclear weapons for deterrence missions during the Cold War, can serve as an intimidating factor. Aside from their nuclear capabilities, the aircraft are also capable of hauling air-to-ground missiles. With a firing range of about 1,864 miles, they could easily strike North Korea from a significant distance.
“Just having the B-52 near the Korean peninsula and pass through means that the US nuclear umbrella can be provided whenever necessary,” South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok told reporters in Seoul.