U.S. forces in South Korea were put on their highest level of alert on Monday in case of any provocation from North Korea, following North Korea’s nuclear test last week.
Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander, U.N. Command/Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea (USFK), made the order during a visit to the Osan Air Base, operated jointly by the United States and South Korea, a USFK official said.
The two countries are in talks toward sending further strategic U.S. assets to the Korean peninsula, a day after a U.S. B-52 bomber flew over South Korea in response to North Korea’s nuclear test last week.
“The United States and South Korea are continuously and closely having discussions on additional deployment of strategic assets,” Kim Min-seok, spokesman at the South Korean defense ministry said on Monday, declining to give specifics.
South Korean media said strategic assets Washington may utilize in Korea included B-2 bombers, nuclear-powered submarines and F-22 stealth fighter jets.
Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday looked to milk his country’s recent nuclear test as a propaganda victory, praising his scientists and vowing more nuclear bombs a day after the United States flew a powerful nuclear-capable warplane close to the North in a show of force.
On Monday, Kim took photos with nuclear scientists and technicians involved in the test and praised them for “having glorified” his two predecessors, his late father, Kim Jong Il, and his grandfather, state founder Kim Il Sung, according to the state-run Korean Central news Agency.
Kim earlier called the explosion “a self-defensive step” meant to protect the region “from the danger of nuclear war caused by the U.S.-led imperialists,” a separate KCNA dispatch said.
The comments provide insight into North Korea’s long-running argument that it is the presence of tens of thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea and Japan and a “hostile” U.S. policy that justify its pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye plans to announce a public statement this week, an official said in Seoul Monday, amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea’s hydrogen bomb test.
Park is set to deliver the statement on Wednesday morning before holding a news conference, presidential spokesman Jeong Yeon-guk told reporters.
Trump ‘praises’ Kim
In US, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump appeared to praise Kim, saying at a rally Saturday that “it’s incredible” how he was able to dispatch his political opponents.
“You gotta give him credit. How many young guys — he was like 26 or 25 when his father died — take over these tough generals, and all of a sudden … he goes in, he takes over, and he’s the boss,” Trump said. “It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle, he wiped out this one, that one. I mean this guy doesn’t play games. And we can’t play games with him,” he told the rally.