United States mulls shooting down North Korean missiles that don't pose direct threat


On September 9, two United States strategic B1-B bombers conducted military exercises in the skies above the East China Sea together with a pair of Japanese F-15 fighter jets. The US warplanes flew close to the demilitarized zone along the border between North and South Korea, the Japan Times reports, citing South Korean military sources.

President Moon Jae-in has extended an invitation to North Korea for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

This decision was made after the unification minister, Cho Myong-gyon, said earlier this week that relief aid to the North was unrelated to sanctions against Pyongyang linked to its nuclear and missile programs.

The latest crisis on the Korean peninsula took on a new dimension in July with the test launches by North Korea of two ICBMs that USA officials estimated had the range to hit the US mainland.

The U.S. warplanes also conducted formation training with Japanese fighter jets over waters near the southern island of Kyushu, according to the Pacific Command.

"Any allies can't be on the exact same page on every matter but it's concerning that we are giving the impression that the two countries have different voices", one diplomat said. The U.N. assesses that 18 million of the 25 million North Koreans are experiencing varying levels of food shortages and the country also suffers from high child and maternal mortality rates.

But other non-kinetic options could include a show of force in the air or on land in the region or increasing the USA military presence in the area by deploying more ships or troops.

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South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo told lawmakers on Monday that it is "not proper" to reintroduce US nuclear weapons.

United States officials have expressed frustration in recent months over North Korea's continued nuclear aggression.

"The so-called "China's responsibility theory" is essentially moral kidnapping", the People's Daily said in a commentary.

"Some related parties keep sending threatening messages both in words and deeds that include warnings of military actions to each other", ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters at a regular briefing.

China and Russian Federation have repeatedly called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis with North Korea and only agreed to the new United Nations sanctions after they were softened by the US.

North Korea on Monday said that additional sanctions will push it to accelerate its nuclear plans, Reuters reported.