NEW YORK, July 31 — The US armed forces are always prepared to use force in response to North Korea’s actions if that is necessary, General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, US Pacific Air Forces commander, said on Sunday.
“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” the Fox News TV channel quotes him as saying. O’Shaughnessy stressed that “diplomacy remains the lead,” while solving North Korea’s problem. “However, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario,” he noted.
“If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing,” the general added.
Earlier reports said that two US Air Force B-1 strategic bombers, along with two Japanese F-2 fighters, held joint drills following a ballistic missile test in North Korea. The exercises were held in the area between the Korean Peninsula and Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu.
On Saturday, The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported the successful launch of the Hwansong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). It noted that the missile’s range was 998 kilometers, while the maximum height was nearly 3,725 kilometers. According to the Japanese Defense Ministry, the missile fell into the Sea of Japan in the country’s exclusive economic zone. It also noted that, compared to the previous launch conducted on July 4, the flight altitude grew nearly 1,000 kilometers, and the time it spent in the air grew by 5 minutes.