June 01, 2018 10:00
The U.S. is sending 14 F-22 stealth fighter jets to an air base in Japan for a month, the Sankei Shimbun reported on Thursday.
The aim seems to be to build up military pressure on North Korea in case that ongoing negotiations with North Korean officials fail.
The daily said 10 F-22s arrived at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa on Wednesday and the rest are also expected to follow soon.
The U.S.' most advanced fighter jets are deployed in Japan for the first time in four years.
They will stay in Japan for a period required for regional security, a spokesman for the U.S. Forces Japan said. Another U.S. military officer said that their deployment comes in readiness for the U.S.-North Korea summit slated for June 12, according to NHK.
Earlier, the U.S. sent eight F-22s to South Korea to take part in the Max Thunder joint aerial drills from May 11 to 25. They fly back to their home base on the U.S. mainland this weekend.
Washington is putting on a show of force by deploying the F-22s on Pyongyang's doorstep as negotiations for the summit are reaching fever pitch.
F-22 fighter jets are touted as being capable of evading radar and striking targets with "pinpoint accuracy."
U.S. military brasses are skeptical that North Korea is really willing to denuclearize. In a change-of-command speech at the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii on Wednesday, Adm. Harry Harris, who has been named Ambassador to South Korea, said, "North Korea remains our most imminent threat. And a nuclear-capable North Korea with missiles that can reach the United States is unacceptable."
In a recently disclosed 2017 report, the U.S. Defense Department said, "Pyongyang portrays nuclear weapons as its most effective way to deter the threat from the United States. However, regime propaganda began emphasizing 'final victory' over [the U.S. and South Korea] in 2017, suggesting Kim Jong-un has larger ambitions, including use of nuclear weapons to deter interference if it attempts to reunify the Korean Peninsula."
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