February 20, 2023 12:46
North Korea continued provocations by firing two short-range missiles on Monday while South Korea and the U.S. staged a joint air drill on Sunday after the North launched an intercontinental ballistic missile the previous day.
The North fired the Hwasong-15 ICBM capable of striking the U.S. mainland on Saturday. State media said the launch had not been planned but was carried out spontaneously on leader Kim Jong-un's instruction.
Experts speculate that if launched at a normal angle of 30 to 45 degrees, the ICBM has a range of up to 14,000 km and could strike any target on the U.S. mainland.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff here said they detected additional missile launches at around 7 a.m. on Monday, apparently in protest against the drill.
South Korea scrambled F-35A stealth fighter jets and F-15Ks and the U.S. F-16 fighter jets that escorted a B-1B bomber from Guam.
The B-1B is a supersonic bomber that can carry up to 57 tons of munitions at very low altitudes. It can reach the Korean Peninsula from its base in just two hours in an emergency. The B-1B was last deployed here on Feb. 1.
"The latest joint air drill demonstrates the timely deployment of the U.S.' extended deterrence in an emergency," the JCS said, and confirmed U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea.
Later this week the two allies conduct a nuclear tabletop exercise at the Pentagon and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in the U.S. state of Georgia.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com