December 26, 2019
The USA flew four surveillance planes over the Korean Peninsula this week amid heightened tensions after North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un hinted he had a “Christmas gift” for President Trump — which could be the testing of a long-range missile.
US spy planes fly near North Korea after ‘Christmas gift’ missile threat
The four American aircraft — an RC-135W Rivet Joint, an E-8C, an RQ-4 Global Hawk and an RC-135S Cobra Ball — were believed to have carried out missions near the peninsula between Tuesday and early Wednesday, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported Wednesday, citing Aircraft Spots.
The RC-135W and the E-8C flew at 31,000 feet, while the Global Hawk was spotted at 53,000 feet, according to the aviation tracking service Aircraft. Meanwhile, the RC-135S took off from Japan’s Kadena Air Base and conducted missions over the East Sea, according to the tracker. A KC-135R refueling aircraft also flew over the East Sea.
It is unusual for so many American surveillance planes to conduct missions around the peninsula at the same time, a likely indication that the US is taking the situation seriously — despite Trump’s statement a day earlier that perhaps Kim was going to send him “a nice present.”
“We’ll find out what the surprise is, and we’ll deal with it very successfully. Everybody’s got surprises for me, but let’s see what happens. I handle them as they come along,” Trump said at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. “Maybe it’s a nice present. Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test. I may get a vase. I may get a nice present from him. You don’t know. You never know.”
Pyongyang wants Washington to come up with a new proposal to restart stalled nuclear talks by the end of the year.
With the deadline looming, the North asserted that it was up to the US to decide what “Christmas gift” it wanted, stoking fears of another ICBM launch about 16 months after the president tweeted, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
The North also conducted a pair of rocket-engine tests at its satellite site in possible preparation for an ICBM launch.
Trump had earlier warned Kim not to interfere with his re-election, saying the communist nation could lose “everything” if it did.
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