Seoul, South Korea
South Korea scrambled about 80 fighter jets after detecting a large number of North Korean warplanes over a four-hour period on Friday, the country’s military said, in a further escalation of regional tensions.
In a statement, the South Korean military said it detected about 180 North Korean military aircraft between 11am and 3pm local time, a day after Pyongyang is believed to have carried out the failed test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula began to rise on Monday as joint US-South Korean “Vigilant Storm” military exercises began, involving hundreds of aircraft and thousands of service members from both countries, according to the US.
North Korea accused its allies of provocative actions and on Wednesday launched 23 missiles from its east and west coasts, the most missiles it has fired in a single day, into waters on either side of the peninsula, which prompting Seoul to respond with three surface-to-air missiles. missiles
Friday’s South Korean deployment included an unspecified number of F-35A stealth fighter jets, the statement said, and South Korean warplanes participating in the ongoing joint maneuvers had also “maintained a posture of preparation,” the South Korean military said.
After Thursday’s suspected ICBM test, the United States and South Korea announced they would extend the drills by another day until Nov. 5, a move denounced by a North Korean official as a “very dangerous option and fake,” according to state media.
Later, after meeting his South Korean counterpart at the Pentagon, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin accused North Korea of ”irresponsible and reckless activities”.
“We’ve said before that this kind of activity is potentially destabilizing for the region. So we’re asking them to stop this kind of activity and start a serious dialogue,” Austin said.
A United Nations Security Council meeting is expected to be held on Friday to discuss Pyongyang’s recent missile launches. According to a spokesman for the US Mission to the UN, the US, UK, France, Albania, Ireland and Norway had called an open meeting.
In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemned North Korea’s actions, saying Pyongyang had violated several Security Council resolutions.
Thomas-Greenfield said the UN would put “pressure” on China and Russia to improve and enhance those sanctions. She declined to say whether US President Joe Biden would raise sanctions with China’s President Xi at the G20, but said it was “on the president’s mind”.