South Korean officials announced that 12 North Korean warplanes had flown close to the nation’s border, heightening tensions in the region.
In addition to the planes, North Korea has held six ballistic missiles launched in the last 14 days.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea told ABC News eight fighter planes and four bombers flew in formation near the surveillance lines between the two countries. The planes carried out air-to-ground drills.
In response, South Korea launched 30 F-15K fighter planes to confront the North Korean planes. The confrontation lasted roughly one hour.
North Korea blamed the United States for “escalating the military tensions on the Korean peninsula” during a meeting with the United Nations Security Council this week. The meeting had been called to discuss the intermediate-range missile North Korea fired over Japan on Oct. 3, the nation’s longest-recorded weapons test. The missile had the potential to reach Guam and forced the Japanese government to stop trains and issued evacuation warnings due to the threat.
On Oct. 8, Pyongyang fired two more ballistic missiles and released a statement from its foreign ministry saying its actions were “the just counteraction measures of the Korean People’s Army on South Korea-US joint drills,” per AFP.
In total, North Korea has held 20 launch events and fired a total of 40 missiles. Its latest testing spree is believed to be a “response to two sets of military drills — one between Washington and Seoul and the other involving Washington, Seoul and Tokyo — off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast last week,” reports NBC News. The drills were seen by the dictatorship as a rehearsal of an invasion.
The Biden administration called the missile launch over Japan a “dangerous and reckless decision.”
“The launch was a danger to the Japanese people, destabilizing to the region and a clear, a clear violation of the United Nations Council’s Security Council resolutions,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at a press briefing on Oct. 4. She added that President Joe Biden is still open to holding denuclearization talks without preconditions with North Korea. The nation’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has not reciprocated this sentiment.
Vice President Kamala Harris toured the Korean Demilitarization Zone on Sept. 29 and mistakenly celebrated the US’s “very important… alliance with the Republic of North Korea” which she described as “strong and enduring.”
“At the DMZ, U.S. soldiers serving shoulder-to-shoulder with soldiers from the Republic of Korea,” Harris said during her remarks. “They are training together. They are committed to working in solidarity around a shared purpose and goal, which is to maintain the security and the stability of this region of the world.”
“I cannot state enough that the commitment of the United States to the defense of the Republic of Korea is ironclad and that we will do everything in our power to ensure that it has meaning in every way that the words suggest,” she added. “This includes our extended deterrence commitment, which is supported by the full range of U.S. military capabilities, again, as demonstrated right here before you.”