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Sunday, January 10, 2016, 13:02

US bomber flies over the ROK

By Agencies and China Daily
US bomber flies over the ROK

A United States B-52 Stratofortress (bottom right) flies over the Republic of Korea on Sunday with ROK F-15K fighter jets (top) and US F-16 fighter jets (left). (AFP / Yonhap)

A United States B-52 bomber, capable of delivering a nuclear missile, flew over the Republic of Korea on Sunday.

The show of force came after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said last week it had carried out a fourth nuclear test.

The long-range bomber, which left from the US Anderson base on Guam on Sunday morning, conducted a low-level flight over the ROK's Osan air base at about noon, the ROK's Yonhap news agency reported.

The US military said the B-52 was joined by South Korean F-15 and US F-16 fighters before it returned to its base on Guam after the flight.

The ROK and US air forces made the joint announcement when the B-52 arrived, Yonhap reported.

The deployment was part of the retaliatory measures taken after the DPRK said on Wednesday it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. If confirmed, it would be the country's first hydrogen bomb test and the fourth nuclear test. Previous tests were conducted in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

The US and the ROK militaries are reportedly considering additional retaliatory measures, including the deployment in the ROK of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which is currently in Yokosuka, Japan.

The retaliation also includes the deployment of a US nuclear-powered submarine and F-22 stealth fighter.

Lieutenant General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, the US Forces Korea deputy commander and US Seventh Air Force commander, said, "The United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and to maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula, to include extended deterrence provided by our conventional forces and our nuclear umbrella."

Zhang Liangui, an expert in Korean studies at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said the B-52 flight is an evident provocation aimed at infuriating Pyongyang.

"It remains to be seen if the ... flight is a one-time mission or just the start of a sequence of missions. It is also unclear if such a mission is just a protest or a prelude to further action," Zhang said.

An editorial in the DPRK's Sinmun newspaper on Sunday called for a peace treaty with the US.

"Only when a peace treaty is concluded between the DPRK and the US can genuine peace settle in the Korean Peninsula," the DPRK's news agency KCNA quoted it as saying.

Earlier on Sunday, KCNA quoted the DPRK leader, Kim Jong-un, as saying that no one had the right to criticize its nuclear tests.

The ROK began blaring propaganda messages into the DPRK on Friday from speakers along the border. Pyongyang described the action as an "act of declaring war".

The ROK's front-line units, stationed near 11 sites where the loudspeakers restarted broadcasting the messages, have been placed on the highest alert.

Daily life was proceeding mostly as normal on the ROK side of the border on Sunday. A popular ice fishing festival near the border attracted an estimated 100,000 people, Yonhap reported.

Xinhua - AFP - Reuters

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