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U.S. Sends Stealth Fighters To South Korean Exercises

  • RFE/RL

North Koreans attend a rally in support of leader Kim Jong Un's order to put its missile units on standby in preparation for a possible war against the United States and South Korea in Pyongyang on March 29.

North Koreans attend a rally in support of leader Kim Jong Un's order to put its missile units on standby in preparation for a possible war against the United States and South Korea in Pyongyang on March 29.

The United States has sent advanced F-22 stealth fighters to South Korea to participate in military exercises at a time of high tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Washington sent the radar-evading F-22 Raptors from a base in Japan to support the ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

Earlier in the week, the United States flew two stealth B-2 bombers as part of the exercise, a move Pyongyang denounces as provocative.

On April 1, South Korean President Park Geun-hye met with Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and other military officials.

Afterward, she indicated that she takes threats from North Korea "very seriously.”

“If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations," she said.

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on March 31 announced a "new strategic line" for the country. Kim was overseeing a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Worker's Party. It was the first time such a meeting has been held since 1993.

‘State Of War’

Kim said North Korea's nuclear weapons are not bargaining chips and committed to expanding the country's nuclear arsenal while also building its economy despite international sanctions.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been elevated since the North conducted a third nuclear-weapons test in February, drawing additional sanctions from the UN and Washington.

On March 30, Pyongyang announced that a "state of war" existed between the two Koreas and that North Korean military forces were targeting bases in South Korea and the region.

Last week, North Korea’s state-run media announced that long-range missile units were targeting U.S. bases in Guam, Hawaii, and the mainland United States.

South Korean workers crossing the border between the two countries to get to work at the jointly run Kaesong Industrial Park in North Korea told Reuters they were concerned about the situation.

Kim Duk-su, 52, told reporters that he hopes the North will recognize the advantages of keeping the industrial park open:

"I am worried a little bit,” he said. “Why not? I am a little nervous. But what can I do? I have to go there to work. I do not know what they [North Koreans]think about the situation, but how could they close the area easily? They have to make money; the industrial park is their dollar box."

North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament is scheduled to meet on April 1.

With reporting by Reuters, "The Wall Street Journal," and "The New York Times"
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