SEOUL – A United States aircraft has conducted a reconnaissance flight over the Korean Peninsula, an aviation tracker reported, as North Korea ends a unilateral moratorium on missile testing. Aircraft Spots said in a report — carried by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency — on Thursday that an RC-135W Rivet Joint of the USAF had conducted a surveillance flight over the peninsula but did not specify when exactly.
The tracker added that the aircraft had been spotted carrying out operations over the peninsula during the past several days in a row, along with a number of other surveillance planes such as an EP-3E and RC-135S. Last Wednesday, Aircraft Spots reported that four American reconnaissance aircraft of different types simultaneously conducted missions over and around the Korean Peninsula.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said on Wednesday that his country would continue developing nuclear programs and introduce a “new strategic weapon” in the near future, state media KCNA reported after the United States missed a year-end deadline for a restart of denuclearization talks.
As the US makes gangster-like demands, including continuing joint military drills with South Korea, adopting cutting-edge weapons and imposing sanctions, there were no grounds for North Korea to be bound by the self-declared nuclear and inter-continental ballistic missile test moratorium, Kim stated.
He pledged to further develop North Korea’s nuclear deterrent, but left the door open for dialogue, saying the “scope and depth” of that deterrent will be “properly coordinated depending on” the attitude of the US.
“The world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK in the near future,” Kim added, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Kim had previously stated that he might have to seek a “new path” if Washington failed to meet his expectations. US military commanders announced that Pyongyang’s actions could include the testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it has halted since 2017, alongside nuclear warhead tests.
Tension had been rising in the run-up to the year-end deadline as North Korea conducted a series of weapons tests and waged a war of words with US President Donald Trump. The nuclear talks have made little headway though Kim and Trump have met three times.
Pyongyang has repeatedly asked Washington to meet its year-end deadline and to offer a new initiative to iron out their differences over the North’s nuclear weapons program. It warned Washington earlier this month that failure to meet Pyongyang’s expectations could result in an unwanted “Christmas gift”.
KCNA quoted Kim as saying that there would “never be denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula” if Washington adhered to what he called its hostile policy. Pyongyang carried out a series of static tests at its Sohae rocket facility this month after a number of weapon launches in recent weeks – some of them described as ballistic missiles by Japan and other countries.