U.S. F-22 fighter jets have been taking part in drills on a South Korean airbase. Against the backdrop of escalating tensions between North and South Korea, the United States also has a Navy destroyer positioned off the Korean peninsula, equipped for ballistic defence.
But the U.S. has downplayed North Korean threats of imminent war as sabre-rattling. At the White House, the Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, “I would note that despite the harsh rhetoric we are hearing from Pyongyang, we are not seeing changes to the North Korean military posture, such as large-scale mobilisations and positioning of forces.
South Korea’s new president has vowed to retaliate in the event of an attack. The country’s rules of engagement have also been changed recently to enable a quicker response from local units, bypassing central command in Seoul.
Meanwhile, North Korea has appointed a new Prime Minister. Pak Pong-ju is a close confidant of the ruling dynasty and will serve to tighten Kim Jong-un’s grip on power.