NEW: South Korean president warns of "strong response" to any provocation
U.S. deploys F-22s to South Korea as part of joint military exercises, U.S. official says
The Pentagon says North Korean threats follow a familiar pattern
North Korea threatens "all-out war and nuclear war" on its enemies, state news reports
What should the world do about North Korea? Share your thoughts on CNN iReport.
The United States deployed stealth fighter jets to South Korea on Sunday as part of ongoing joint military exercises between the two countries, a senior U.S. defense official said.
The F-22 Raptors were sent to the main U.S. Air Force Base in South Korea amid spiking tensions on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. military command in South Korea said they were deployed to support air drills as part of the annual Foal Eagle training exercises, which are carried out in accordance with the armistice that put an end to armed hostilities in 1953.
North Korea has been ramping up its rhetoric and military show of force in response to the annual joint military exercises, declaring the armistice invalid on March 11, 10 days after Foal Eagle began. It is something Pyongyang has done before during heightened tensions.
The United States’ participation in Foal Eagle is intended to demonstrate the country’s “commitment to stability and security in the Asia-Pacific Region,” the U.S. military command in South Korea said in a statement that also urged North Korea to tone down its rhetoric.
“The (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia,” the statement said. “The North Korean leadership is urged to heed President Obama’s call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with its international obligations.”
North Korea’s hot rhetoric
The deployment follows fresh insults over the weekend from Pyongyang’s propaganda machine comparing the U.S. mainland with a “boiled pumpkin,” unable to endure an attack from a foreign foe, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported. North Korea, on the other hand, could withstand an offensive from the outside, the report said, thanks to shelters that the government had built around the country.
North Korea’s threatening rhetoric has reached a fever pitch, but the Pentagon and the South Korean government have said it’s nothing new.
“We have no indications at this point that it’s anything more than warmongering rhetoric,” a senior Washington Defense official said late Friday.
The National Security Council, which advises the U.S. president on matters of war, struck a similar cord. Washington finds North Korea’s statements “unconstructive,” and it does take 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.
The United States will continue to update its capabilities against any military threat from the North, which includes plans to deploy missile defense systems.
North Korea has entered a “state of war” with neighboring South Korea, according to a report Saturday from the state-run Korean Central News Agency that included a threat to “dissolve” the U.S. mainland.
“The condition, which was neither war nor peace, has ended,” North Korea’s government said in a special statement carried by KCNA.
Saturday’s report included a direct threat to the United States, while also asserting Pyongyang “will not limit (itself) to limited warfare but to all-out war and nuclear war.”
South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday issued a warning of her own to Pyongyang.