Sept. 26 (UPI) — North Korea has threatened to shoot down U.S. bombers outside Pyongyang’s airspace, but North Korea’s military may not be ready to take such measures against U.S. aircraft.
South Korean lawmaker Lee Cheol-uoo told reporters Wednesday, local time, the most recent flight of U.S. supersonic bombers to the peninsula went undetected by North Korea radar, local newspaper JoongAng Daily reported.
Lee made the remarks after he was briefed by Seoul’s spy agency.
The Donga Ilbo reported the flight of the B-1B strategic bombers was not met with a response within 48 hours because Pyongyang’s military was unaware it would need to increase defenses along its eastern coast.
Lee also said the United States “disclosed the B-1B flight route because North Korea appeared unaware of the operation.”
The information was later picked up by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who claimed on Monday U.S. President Donald Trump had “declared war” on his country following Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
“Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country,” Pyongyang’s top diplomat had said.
North Korea’s verbal warnings, however, have not been followed by a stronger defense posture at the heavily fortified demilitarized zone.
Lee said North Korea is acting carefully at the border and Pyongyang’s troops at the border have been ordered to “report first, taken action later.”
“Because of the risk of accidental conflict, it appears such an ordinance was made,” Lee said.
Shin Won-shik, who served as deputy chairman of the Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff, said North Korea uses terms like “declaration of war” when it needs to compensate for a shortage of military manpower.
Some of the regime’s manpower may be missing because Kim Jong Un needs more laborers to be deployed overseas as “guest workers” in countries like China and Russia.
Sanctions, however, are forcing North Korean workers with blacklisted entities like Namkang Construction to leave Kuwait, the Chosun Ilbo reported.
The North Korean workers were seen buying pills, including Viagra, at a pharmacy in Kuwait ahead of their departure, according to the Chosun.