North Korea”™s recent nuclear test not only sent waves of concern in diplomatic & military circles, but even through stock markets as Dow Jones displayed over a 2% fall after the successful test. North Korea has always looked to intimidate the US with its armed capabilities & threats of cyber attacks. But this time around the US decided to send a message to North Korea.
The US sent nuclear-capable supersonic bombers streaking over ally South Korea. These B-1 bombers were escorted by US & South Korean jets & were seen over the Osan Air Base which is just 120 km from the North Korean border.
South Korea was particularly unnerved with North Korea”™s nuclear test (this was the 5th test) as it doesn”™t possess nuclear weapons of its own & depends on the US”™ “˜nuclear umbrella”™ as a deterrent to North Korea. The Korean peninsula is one of high military activity & a more-than-usual level of animosity. The US also stations more than 28,000 troops in South Korea.
North Korea is well aware of all these US activities & uses them as an excuse to highlight a need for a nuclear weapons program to safeguard itself. Last week”™s nuclear test was the most powerful one till date which has also led some outsiders to worry that the country might be making progress in developing small, sophisticated warheads than can be mounted on missiles which will have the capability of reaching the US mainland. This test was conducted even after US President Barack Obama had had a meeting with leaders of South Korea & Japan, & had warned North Korea of “˜serious consequences”™ if any provocative actions were undertaken on its behalf.
South Korea”™s Defence Ministry spokesperson Moon Sang Gyun said that their & the US intelligence believes that North Korea has the ability to detonate another atomic device at one of its tunnels at its main Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
Seoul, Washington & their allies have vowed to apply more pressure & sanctions on North Korea, the second time this year.
You can follow the author on Twitter at @vinayak_jain