Two U.S. bombers displayed a strong displayed a strong of force to show that President Trump will not tolerate Kim Jong-un’s actions.
The warplanes were B-1B bombers, powerful supersonic aircraft that the United States Air Force has been flying over the Korean Peninsula several times this year as tensions increase between the U.S. and North Korea. Most notably, the planes were used as warnings when North Korea illegally tested it’s failed ballistic missiles in April. (via The Associated Press)
This time, the B-1B bombers were sent after the news came in that Otto Warmbier died on the 19th. Otto Warmbier was an American college student on tour in North Korea when he was detained by the government for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda banner from his hotel. North Korea had sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor for handling the image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but released him to the U.S. after he slipped into a coma claimed to be the result of “botulism and a sleeping pill”.
Medical reports provided by North Korean doctors show that Otto suffered significant neurological trauma resulting in “extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain,” according to the doctors who treated him in the U.S. Many analysts have said that the death will cast a shadow on U.S. relations with North Korea.
According to CBS News, Trump condemned how the American tourist was handled by the North Korean government, saying, “It’s a total disgrace what happened to Otto and it should never ever be allowed to happen.” South Korean’s president Moon Jae-in has decried Jong-un’s government, saying that “we must now have the perception that North Korea is an irrational regime.”
The U.S. military said the flights Tuesday were part of routine exercises with the South Koreans and the Japanese. The intention was to show North Korea that these three nations are prepared “to defend against provocative and destabilizing actions in the Pacific theater” (via U.S. Air Force).
These flights and other actions by the U.S. military and its allies in the area are part of an ongoing effort to put pressure on Kim Jong-un to stay in line, following various nuclear tests in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. Many nations are worried of potential nuclear attacks conducted by or against North Korea as a result of Kim Jong-un defying the UN — not to mention his belligerent behavior towards South Korean and the U.S.
China has remained anxious of the rising hostility between its North Korean ally and its U.S. trade partner. It has been actively working to bring peace amongst the nations and was working with Trump to establish dialogue with Kim Jong-un following Otto Warmbier’s death. Trump even thanked China’s President, Xi Jinping for the effort, saying in a tweet, “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi and China to help with Nork Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”
Currently, the U.S. has helped establish a significant military presence as a defense against North Korea. Tens of thousands of troops have been stationed in both Japan and South Korea, along with a number of anti-missile defense installations in the peninsula, should Kim Jong-un foolishly decide to attack.