The United States deployed stealth fighter jets to partake in joint military drills with South Korea on Sunday amidst more shrill rhetoric from Pyongyang.
The annual Foal Eagle training exercises are part of the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953. F-22 Raptors were sent to a U.S. Air Force base in South Korea to participate in air drills.
North Korea responded to the drills in early March by ramping up rhetoric. A week into the exercises, Kim Jong Un declared the peace armistice invalid on March 11. North Korea’s lines of communication with the U.S., South Korea, and the United Nations were also severed. Last week, Jung Un ordered missile units to be readied to attack U.S. bases in the South and Pacific.
Pyongyang said it has entered into a “state of war” with South Korea, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Saturday.
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The report was accompanied by a threat to “target and dissolve mainland United States” and comparing the U.S. to a “boiled pumpkin.”
"If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations," South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday in a meeting with the defense minister and senior officials.
The North was outraged after threats from the South to destroy statues of the Kim dynasty in the event of a new attack. However, a South Korean defense ministry official said last week that there has not been any sign from the North’s military that they are preparing for an attack.
New rules of engagement in South Korea allow local units to respond to attacks immediately, without getting approval from Seoul.
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Washington and Seoul are calling the propaganda nothing new.
The National Security Council is taking the threats seriously. "But we would also note that North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats, and today's announcement follows that familiar pattern," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the security council.
While Washington garnered a bit of criticism for its display of military action, with some fearing that this might possibly adding to the tension on the peninsula, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel denied those allegations Thursday.
“We are committed to a pathway to peace," Hagel said. "And the North Koreans seem to be headed in a different direction here."