We’re watching you Kim! US spy planes monitor North Korea as fears grow for missile launch

Joe Biden discusses North Korea threat during debate

The E-3B jet departed Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, a Japanese territory in the East China Sea, and carried out a mission over South Korea and the Yellow Sea earlier today. The US military also flew a second aircraft, known as JSTARS, over southern regions of South Korea. Aircraft Spots, an aviation-tracking Twitter account, said: “USAF E-3B Sentry AWACS 77-0353 RONIN22 returning to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa after a mission over South Korea and the Yellow Sea.”

A South Korean E-737 Peace Eye early warning aircraft was also seen carrying out missions over the peninsula, along with two RC-12X Guardrails and one EO-5C Crazy Hawk aircraft that was operated by US Forces Korea (USFK).

North Korea regularly launches missiles to mark US elections. However, as of yet, all has been quiet in the hermit state.

An officer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in the United States Department of Defense said: “There are no signs that indicate immediate provocative moves by the North.”

And an Air Force officer in Seoul added: “The deployment of those aircraft appears to be part of their regular operations, and the South Korean and the US assets have staged joint missions on a regular basis.”

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The mission came amid fears North Korea could carry out missile tests when US President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.

Kim Jong-un has stayed silent over Donald Trump’s defeat last month.

He is one of the few remaining world leaders who has not congratulated the incoming President on his election win.

Mr Trump’s relationship with Kim was unusual as he was the first sitting US President to meet the leader of the hermit nation.

North Korea usually test-fires missiles around the time a new US president takes office.

Soo Kim, a former CIA worker and US policy analyst told Bloomberg: “The nukes are here to stay, Kim will continue to build and extort, and the strategy has proven to work for decades. So why change what works?”

North Korea has spent years developing long-range ballistic missiles that some experts think could be capable of reaching the US.

Earlier this year, a new missile was unveiled at a military parade that was declared to be the biggest made by the country so far.

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Kurt Campbell, the top US diplomat for East Asia under President Barack Obama, who could a contender for a senior position under Biden, said the administration he had served in began with a “rather prolonged period of study” on how to handle Pyongyang.

He warned Mr Biden would need to make a decision quickly over “what to do” with North Korea.

He said: “One of the key challenges of Biden administration is the need to make an early decision about what to do with respect to North Korea.”

He also stressed the importance of the US working closely with South Korea.

He said: “When I talk about areas that I think we need to emulate or admire, I think some boldness is appropriate in American foreign policy, particularly in Asia.

“Early signals to North Korea will be something that will be near the top of the list of the Biden team as they assume office.”

Kim has not conducted any nuclear or long-range missile tests since 2017, but he has issued several threats.

His relations with Mr Biden have not started well after he called Kim a “thug” during the election campaign and said the “days of cosying up to dictators are over”.

Last year, North Korea called Biden a “rabid dog” that needed to be “beaten to death with a stick.”

Mr Biden said in October he would only meet Kim “on the condition that he would agree that he would be drawing down his nuclear capacity to get there”.

He added: “The Korean Peninsula should be a nuclear free-zone.”

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