Experts: NKorea lacks ability, intent to attack US planes

Military analysts say North Korea doesn’t have either the capability or the intent to attack U.S. bombers and fighter jets, despite the country’s top diplomat saying it has every right do so.

They view the remark by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and a recent propaganda video simulating such an attack as tit-for-tat responses to fiery rhetoric by U.S. President Donald Trump and his hardening stance against the North’s nuclear weapons program.

By highlighting the possibility of a potential military clash on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea may be trying to create a distraction as it works behind the scenes to advance its nuclear weapons development, said Du Hyeogn Cha, a visiting scholar at Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies. Another possibility is that North Korea is trying to win space to save face as it contemplates whether to de-escalate its standoff with Washington, he said Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters before leaving a U.N. meeting in New York, Ri said Trump had “declared war” on his country by tweeting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer.” Ri said North Korea has “every right” to take countermeasures, including shooting down U.S. strategic bombers, even when they’re not in North Korean airspace.

The U.S. frequently sends advanced warplanes to the Korean Peninsula for patrols or drills during times of animosity. Last weekend, U.S. bombers and fighter escorts flew in international airspace east of North Korea to the farthest point north of the border between North and South Korea that they have in this century, according to the Pentagon.

Hours after the flights Sunday, a North Korean government propaganda website posted a video portraying U.S. warplanes and an aircraft carrier being destroyed by attacks. The video on DPRK Today, which was patched together from photos and crude computer-generated animation, also included footage of North Korean solid-fuel missiles being fired from land mobile launchers and a submarine. The North was clearly trying to claim it has the ability to conduct retaliatory strikes against U.S. attacks, said Hong Min, an analyst at Seoul’s Korea Institute for National Unification.

Moon Seong Mook, a former South Korean military official and current senior analyst for the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, said it’s highly unlikely North Korea has the real-world capability to match Ri’s words. North Korea’s aging MiG fighters won’t stance a…

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