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US and South Korean fighter jets show strength to Kim Jong Un amid North Korea nuclear test fears

Seoul, South Korea

South Korea and the United States staged a show of air force against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, flying 20 fighter jets over waters west of the Korean peninsula in response to recent Pyongyang missile tests.

The allies sent the jets – South Korean F-35A, F-15K and FK-16 fighters and American F-16s – over the Yellow Sea, known as the West Sea in Korea South on Tuesday morning after North Korea launched eight short-range ballistic missiles on Sunday.

“South Korea and the United States demonstrated their strong ability and willingness to strike quickly and accurately against any North Korean provocation by demonstrating their combined defense capabilities and posture through this combined demonstration flight of the air force,” South Korea’s defense ministry said on Tuesday.

The flights came amid renewed fears that Pyongyang is set to conduct another nuclear weapons test.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Monday that North Korea may have opened an access route to its underground nuclear test site.

The report follows an assessment by US military and intelligence agencies last month that North Korea may be ready to resume underground nuclear testing at its Punggye-ri site, based on satellite images showing signs personnel and vehicle activity.

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Punggye-ri, which has been the site of North Korea’s six nuclear tests to date, was partially dismantled in 2018 under a deal between Pyongyang, Washington and Seoul.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has been banned by the United Nations and Pyongyang has not tested a nuclear weapon since 2017.

But this year it has repeatedly tested missiles that could possibly carry a nuclear warhead, including intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach the American mainland. Sunday’s launch of eight ballistic missiles was the 17th time this year that the Kim regime has held such tests.

South Korea and the United States responded Monday with eight missile launches, the third time this year they have held tit-for-tat missile tests.

US and South Korean fighter jets show strength to Kim Jong Un amid North Korea nuclear test fears

Presentations of the arsenal of South Korean fighter jets are not uncommon.

Twice this year, Seoul has showcased its fleet of F-35A stealth fighters, with dozens of planes lined up on a runway in what the military calls “elephant walks” – a display of equipment meant to send a message to potential adversaries.

Seoul’s tone toward North Korean aggression has hardened since the election of new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office on May 10. promoted dialogue and peaceful reconciliation.

Yoon promised to respond “firmly and sternly” to North Korean provocations during a speech marking South Korea’s Memorial Day on Monday.


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