South Korean lawmakers have been wondering whether fault lines might emerge in US-South Korean military ties as tensions on the Korean Peninsula grow, but have been reassured that the US actually plans to increase the number of its “strategic” military assets in their region by the end of the year, APA reports quoting Sputnik.
“The US has pledged to expand the rotational deployment of its strategic assets near the Korean Peninsula,” Chung Eiu-young, chief of South Korea’s National Security Office, told lawmakers Wednesday, according to Yonhap.
A document has been signed by US personnel stating the US would make good on its promise, the South Korean news agency said.
The "strategic" assets would comprise an aircraft carrier, nuclear Ohio-class submarines, B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, and F-22 Raptors, the US military’s de facto air superiority fighter, reports Chosun, a South Korean newspaper. Each Ohio-class sub carries 20 D-5 Trident ballistic missiles; one Trident can carry up to 12 nuclear warheads.
Each B-2, meanwhile, can pack 16 nukes in its bomb bay in addition to "bunker busters," a signal to North Korea that underground caves cannot be considered secure hiding places.
Harald Malmgren, former aide to US presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, said Wednesday via Twitter “when [US President Donald] Trump called for one-air drop of MOAB [the Massive Ordnance Air Blast or so-called ‘mother of all bombs’]” the point was to send "a message" to North Korea: "no tunnels or deep underground facilities" are safe.
Two squadrons of US F-35s have already deployed to both South Korea and Japan. And in February, supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers, by treaty not nuclear-capable, arrived at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. At least a dozen F-22s have been stationed in Japan since 2016.
Bringing some of those chess pieces directly to the Korean Peninsula would signal a more assertive US posture toward Pyongyang.
Over the weekend, a pair of Lancers and accompanying South Korean F-15s flew north of the demilitarized zone along North Korea’s east coast, as the US president used Twitter to condemn the North Korean foreign minister’s speech before the UN and suggest the country’s leadership wasn’t long for this world. Speaking to reporters outside a New York hotel Monday, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said, "Trump claimed our leadership would not be around much longer … he declared a war on our country."