The US have flown stealth fighters and advanced bombers over the Korean peninsula
For months now, the delicate situation on the Korean peninsula has been slowly escalating.
No longer mere verbal barbs, now military exercises and missile tests have come to dominate the landscape on the Korean peninsula, though the consistently bombastic rhetoric emanating from both the United States and North Korea has hardly served to temper their increasingly fraught relations.
The United States has been consistently condemnatory of North Korea's missile testing programme, which flies in the face of sanctions from several countries and international bodies, while the North has cast America as the provocateur in return. UN sanctions appear to have had no effect on Pyongyang's military ambitions, and President Trump has grown frustrated with President Xi Jinping of China's inability to restrain Kim Jong-un.
Indeed, the North has done nothing to suggest that it intends to temper its military ambitions, in particular its widely decried nuclear testing programme. It was with dismay that the world learned of North Korea's test firing of a missile that flew over Japan, a move that was blasted as an "unprecedented, serious and grave threat" in Tokyo.
Despite some in the US believing that UN sanctions on North Korea are having little to no effect on Kim Jong-un's military ambitions, a new wave of UN restrictions were imposed, described by Pyongyang as "the most vicious, unethical and inhumane act of hostility" which aimed to "physically exterminate" their people.
Now, in an apparent show of military strength, several US jets joined with four South Korean fighters to conduct "routine" exercises intended to "'improve their joint operation capabilities against contingencies".
The move seems highly likely to infuriate Kim Jong-un, as North Korea has responded angrily to joint US/South Korean military exercises in the past. Mere hours after Pyongyang's missile fire over Japan earlier this month, it was reported that South Korea had dropped eight MK-84 bombs close to the country's border with North Korea in a show of military strength. The Independent says that President Moon Jae-In "ordered the strike, by four F-15K fighter-bombers, at a firing range in the country's east to 'display a strong capability to punish' North Korea if it were to attack."
Meanwhile, President Trump - who earlier this summer promised "fire and fury" if North Korea did not curtail its military initiatives, took to his preferred communicative medium of Twitter to seemingly dub Kim Jong-un "Rocket Man" in a bizarre tweet that read in full "I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!"
World leaders and onlookers alike will be hoping that a peaceful solution could yet be found for what appears to be an increasingly fraught situation on the Korean peninsula. With the United States determined for Kim Jong-un to temper his military ambitions, and North Korea casting the US as the chief provocateur, though, that solution seems as far away as ever.