A US B-52 flight over South Korea follows a victory tour by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to celebrate the country’s widely disputed claim of a hydrogen bomb test.
Osan Air Base, South Korea: A powerful B-52 bomber flew over South Korea on Sunday, a clear show of force from the United States as a Cold War-style stand-off deepened between its ally, Seoul, and North Korea after Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test.
North Korea will view the flyover of a bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons – seen by an Associated Press photographer at Osan Air Base near Seoul – as a threat. Any hint of America’s nuclear power enrages Pyongyang, which links its pursuit of atomic weapons to what it sees as past nuclear-backed moves by the US to topple its authoritarian government.
The B-52 flight follows a victory tour by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to celebrate the country’s widely disputed claim of a hydrogen bomb test.
Mr Kim is seeking to rally pride in an explosion viewed with outrage by much of the world and to boost his domestic political goals.
There was no immediate reaction from Pyongyang’s state media to the B-52 flyover, which also happened after North Korea’s third nuclear test in 2013.
Mr Kim’s first public comments about the most recent test came in a visit to the country’s military headquarters, where he called the explosion “a self-defensive step” meant to protect the region “from the danger of nuclear war caused by the US-led imperialists”, a dispatch on Sunday from the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.
“It is the legitimate right of a sovereign state and a fair action that nobody can criticise,” Mr Kim was reported as saying during his tour of the People’s Armed Forces Ministry.
The tone of the comments, which sought to glorify Mr Kim and justify the test, was typical of state media propaganda.
However, they also provide insight into North Korea’s long-running argument that it is the presence of tens of thousands of US troops in South Korea and Japan, and a “hostile” US policy that seeks to topple the government in Pyongyang, that make the pursuit of nuclear weapons absolutely necessary.
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