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US, South Korea warplanes put on show of force for Kim Jong Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

The U.S. and South Korea conducted joint bombing drills using a type of precision munition for the first time in about seven years, in a show of force after Seoul scrapped a 2018 deal with North Korea to reduce tensions at the border.

At least one US B1-B bomber and other fighter jets such as the F-35B joined South Korean jets for the drills Wednesday that dropped a JDAM bomb. JDAM stands for Joint Direct Attack Munition and it’s a tail kit that converts unguided bombs into accurate, weather-adverse bombs, according to the U.S. Air Force.

The last time JDAM was used in a joint drill was in 2017, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement. South Korean F-15Ks fighters conducted live-fire drills at the same time to show a joint defense posture against “any provocation by North Korea,” the ministry said.

The exercise comes as South Korea has ratcheted up pressure on North Korea after Kim Jong Un’s regime from last week floated about 1,000 balloons carrying trash such as waste paper and cigarette butts across the border. South Korea and U.S. soldiers also started river-crossing exercises this week, South Korea’s military said.

The tit-for-tat exchanges increase the chances for escalating provocations on the heavily armed peninsula where about 28,500 U.S. military personnel are stationed, especially after the North Korean leader began the year by saying he has the right to annihilate his neighbor.

President Yoon Suk Yeol’s government plans to resume activities near the border with North Korea that were suspended as part of the 2018 deal such as live-fire artillery drills. It’s also looking to resume the use of loudspeakers that blast political messages and K-pop music into North Korea.

The accord, once seen as a landmark in reconciliation, resulted in both sides destroying 10 front-line guard posts, enforcing bans on military exercises in the area and imposing a no-fly zone.

The military deal has been largely symbolic of late after North Korea declared it would scrap the accord in November last year, vowing to “immediately restore all military measures that have been halted.” South Korea also has partly rolled back the pact, resuming aerial reconnaissance operations near the border after Pyongyang for the first time successfully launched a spy satellite in November.

North Korea has said over the weekend that it’s ready to end its campaign of sending waste by balloons against the “human scum” in South Korea — as long as they stop sending balloons filled with leaflets criticizing Pyongyang.


© 2024 Bloomberg L.P

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