South Korean government officials, including President Moon Jae-in, have said the North's latest ICBM is their most capable yet, although it has several critical points to prove, such as re-entry technology and terminal stage guidance.
The exercise marks the second time this week that the USA has dispatched the aircraft as part of Vigilant Ace.
A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter aircraft, assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron, taxis down a runway during Exercise VIGILANT ACE 18 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 3, 2017.
The exercise provides realistic air combat training for the United States and Republic of Korea, testing and refining the readiness and interoperability of US-ROK forces to deter aggression and provide a rapid response to attack. By now, we all know that North Korea's been hard at work dong what they do best: Launching test missiles and fiery rhetoric.
On Monday, the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) flew exercises in "routes and areas it has never flown before" over both the Yellow Sea that divides China and the Korean Peninsula as well as the East China Sea between China, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. US and Korean forces have been preparing the for Vigilant Ace for weeks. Is war with North Korea inevitable now?
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The Trump Administration does not seem to consider the North Korean dictator to be a rational actor, and therefore, seems to believe he can not be deterred. The exercise allows US and RoK forces to train together to deter aggression, preserve the armistice, and defeat any attack against the alliance. "Its intentions are to use that weapon for nuclear blackmail, and then, to, quote, you know, "reunify" the peninsula under the red banner".
"It's insane to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea", Graham, a Republican senator from SC, said on CBS's Face the Nation. That led to events such as the Able Archer incident in 1983 where the Kremlin mistook a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation exercise as preparations to launch a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union-the closest Washington and Moscow ever came to World War III.
Some analysts and diplomats hope Feltman's visit to the North could spark a United Nations -led effort to defuse rising global tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest.