The United States will send stealth fighters to a large-scale air force drill with South Korea next month, the USA military said Friday, in a new show of force aimed at North Korea. The South briefly resumed the broadcasts in August 2015 after an 11-year break, after Seoul blamed Pyongyang for land mine explosions that maimed two South Korean soldiers.
After investigating the incident, the U.N. Command said Wednesday it concluded that North Korea violated the armistice agreement ending the 1950-53 Korean War because its soldiers fired across and physically crossed the border in pursuit of the defector.
The JSA is jointly overseen by the U.S. -led U.N. Command and by North Korea, with South Korean and North Korean border guards facing each other only a feet apart.
"Vigilant Ace is part of a continuous exercise program created to enhance the readiness of United States and ROK [Republic of Korea] forces", a Pacific Air Forces spokesman told Air Force Magazine in 2016. As many as four F-35A Lightning stealth fighters are also likely to join the drill, Reuters reported, citing a U.S. Air Force official.
The warning was issued by South Korean Minister of Defence Song Young-moo and it is coming at a time of heightened tension between North Korea and the global community over its nuclear weapons programme.
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Oh drove a jeep at about 70 kph before the vehicle got stuck in a ditch north of the Military Demarcation Line, the de facto border between the two Koreas.
Song Young-moo also said North Korean soldiers' possession of automatic rifles in the area was an armistice violation. It said officials notified the North's military of these violations and requested a meeting to discuss the investigation results and measures to prevent such violations.
"This defector's plight is a window onto North Korean life", Brian Hook, director of policy planning and senior policy adviser at the State Department wrote.
A "vast majority" of North Korean citizens are subject to even worse treatment, Hook said.
Earlier this month, the USA flew two B-1B supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula as part of a joint exercise with Japan and South Korea.