US deploys B-1B bomber to peninsula after N. Korea fires short-range ballistic missile

Posted on : 2023-03-20 17:06 KST Modified on : 2023-03-20 17:06 KST
The missile launch appears to be the North’s response to the ongoing joint military drills by South Korea and the US
This undated file photo shows a ballistic missile being launched by North Korea. (KCNA/Yonhap)
This undated file photo shows a ballistic missile being launched by North Korea. (KCNA/Yonhap)

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that North Korea had fired a short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea on Sunday morning. The US military responded by deploying B-1B strategic bombers to the Korean Peninsula amid the ongoing joint South Korea-US “Freedom Shield” drills.

The Joint Chiefs reported on Sunday that the military detected a short-range ballistic missile fired toward the East Sea from Tongchang-ri in North Pyongan Province at 11:05 am, adding that the missile flew around 800 kilometers before splashing down in the East Sea and that the detailed specifications of its route are being analyzed comprehensively by South Korean and US intelligence agencies.

North Korea’s missile launch came three days after its launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday, the day of the South Korea-Japan summit. Previously, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on March 14 from Changyon, and fired two submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) from the Sinpo area on March 12.

North Korea has launched seven ballistic missiles so far in 2023.

The missile launch appears to be the North’s response to the Freedom Shield military exercises being held by South Korea and the US which started on March 13 and will continue through Thursday.

The launch also appears to be North Korea’s way of expressing its discontent with South Korea and Japan emphasizing a joint response to nuclear and missile threats by the North during their recent summit.

"We strongly condemn North Korea's series of successive ballistic missile launches as serious provocations that harm peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and for the international community, making them a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions," South Korea’ Joint Chiefs said. "Our military will maintain a firm readiness posture based on its ability to overwhelmingly respond to any North Korean provocations.”

In the midst of these escalating tensions between the two Koreas, a US strategic bomber took part in military drills over the Korean Peninsula on the same day.

“Joint air drills were conducted with a US B-1B strategic bomber deployed to the Korean Peninsula,” the Ministry of National Defense said on Sunday, adding that South Korean F-35A stealth fighter jets and US F-16 fighters also took part in the drills.

The B-1B Lancer is one of the US’ three strategic bombers, along with the B-52 and B-2, and is the only supersonic jet among the strategic bombers that can fly from Guam to the Korean Peninsula in two hours and then conduct operations.

It’s highly likely that shows of force by North Korea will continue for some time.

On Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un accused the US and South Korea of showing “open hostility” to the North and warned them that their actions “will bring an irreversible, grave threat to them.”

By Shin Hyeong-cheol, staff reporter

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