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Pentagon highlighting bomber missions in Korea

By Robert Burns

AP National Security Writer

LAST UPDATED: 07:51 a.m. HST, Mar 18, 2013

WASHINGTON » The United States is flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers on training missions over South Korea to highlight Washington's commitment to defend an ally amid rising tensions with North Korea, Pentagon officials said today.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said one B-52 flew over South Korea on March 8, and the deputy defense secretary, Ashton Carter, said during a visit to Seoul that another bomber mission is scheduled for Tuesday.

B-52 bombers are capable of launching nuclear-armed cruise missiles, but Little said those participating in the Korean exercise are not armed with nuclear weapons.

The use of Air Force warplanes as part of an annual U.S.-South Korean military exercise called Foal Eagle is not unusual. But the Pentagon used the occasion to draw attention to the role B-52 bombers play as part of an American nuclear "umbrella" over South Korea and Japan — both of which feel threatened by North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

"We're deeply concerned about North Koreans behavior and rhetoric," Little told reporters.

In a more dramatic demonstration of that concern, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday announced that the U.S. is beefing up its defenses against a potential North Korean missile attack on the U.S. He said that over the coming four years the Pentagon will add 14 missile interceptors to the 26 it already has in place at Fort Greely, Alaska, at an estimated cost of $1 billion.

Hagel cited three recent developments in North Korea that prompted the Obama administration to act, including a nuclear test in February deemed reckless by Washington and condemned by the United Nations Security Council.

Hagel also cited Pyongyang's launch in December of a rocket that put a satellite into space and demonstrated mastery of some of the technologies needed to produce a long-range nuclear missile. And he noted that last April the North Koreans put on public display a road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, the KN-08. Navy Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that missile is believed to be capable of reaching U.S. territory.

Although not mentioned by Hagel, the North Koreas raised tensions further by threatening last Thursday to pre-emptively attack the U.S. Among its recent declarations, North Korea has said it will no longer recognize the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, though it has made such remarks before.

Carter said in Seoul on Monday that he discussed with South Korean officials the North's "continued pattern of provocative actions" and offered assurances that the budget crisis in Washington will not weaken the U.S. military commitment to South Korea.

North Korea routinely condemns U.S. and South Korean military exercises as provocations and unwarranted preparations for war.

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cojef wrote:
Kim Jun Ung, a mouthpiece for the generals will be done in when things start to back fire from their saber rattling. The B-52 flights are the first of many tactics that will be used to diffuse further threat by this rogue regime. We have deployed throughout the oceans nuclear subs equipped to counter any nuclear attacks. Of course, the subs are deployed primarily for defensive purposes. Costs for maintains freedom and peace does not come cheap.
on March 18,2013 | 09:57AM
Changalang wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 18,2013 | 10:49AM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
We are too far down that road to do things differently. We can only hope and pray that if it comes to that, their lungs would be in such bad shape from the terrible pollution that they're rendered useless in combat.
on March 18,2013 | 12:03PM
pcman wrote:
Saber rattling by North Korea and Iran to show their intention and capability to employ nuclear weapons does not warrant us to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in their respective theaters. B-52's would not be able to carry out tactical conventional missions without other combat support capabilities such as stealth fighters, bombers and reconnaissance assets. The North Koreans know this, as well as Russia and China. To really make an impression with North Korea, we need to launch stealth assets within tactical range of North Korea and incorporate them in Korean exercises, information operations and tactical deception.
on March 18,2013 | 01:29PM
HD36 wrote:
The US dollar is the world's reserve currency. If China gains that stutus, our econmy will collapse within months. The US will go to great lengnts to protect it. Iraq tried to trade their oil for Euros and shortly thereafter they were attacked. Libya tried to trade oil for gold. Iran is trading oil for grain, gold, and almost every commodity but US dollaars. They are on the hit list. By goading N. Korea , China's ally, and backing Japan, the showdown with China is nearing. China is the largest producer of gold in the world, and they just bought 454 tons. China is the largest creditor nation in the world while the US is the largest debtor nation in the history of the world. China has executed bilateral trade agreements around the globe to bypass the US dollar. They have surpassed Japan as the number 2 economy in the world and are set to pass the US in 2016. If one of these B52 are somehow downed a missle, the start of WWIII will begin. Hopefully it won't be a false flag incident like the Gulf of Tonkin.
on March 18,2013 | 04:17PM
Changalang wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 18,2013 | 05:07PM
HD36 wrote:
Actually they change leadership every 10 years regardless of the economic situation. I serously doubt their real estate bubble will be worse than ours because almost all home buyers have put down at least 20% and alot of them have paid cash for their place. Also, they haven't created derivitive truanches like the US did and had them rated AAA and sold them off again as investments. Also, they don't have a quasi-governmental agency like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that gauranteed the loans and then had them wiped off the balance sheet by the Federal Reserve. The crash will be in US Treasury Bonds. The Federal Reserve is buying $45 billion a month. The Chinese have stopped by them and are selling them. They are diversifying out of the dollar and buying oil fields, copper mines, agricultural land, and other natural resources around the world. When they finally depeg from the dollar, the yen will rise over 250% against the dollar the same way the yen rose over 1000% against the dollar. Fed Printing has caused the stock market to soar to all time highs. Wrong time to have gotten out this year.
on March 18,2013 | 05:39PM
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