Experts: N. Korea lacks ability, intent to attack US planes


Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea

Military analysts say North Korea doesn’t have either the capability or the intent to attack U.S. bombers and fighter jets, despite the country’s top diplomat saying it has every right do so.

They view the remark by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and a recent propaganda video simulating such an attack as tit-for-tat responses to fiery rhetoric by U.S. President Donald Trump and his hardening stance against the North’s nuclear weapons program.

By highlighting the possibility of a potential military clash on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea may be trying to create a distraction as it works behind the scenes to advance its nuclear weapons development, said Du Hyeogn Cha, a visiting scholar at Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

Another possibility is that North Korea is trying to win space to save face as it contemplates whether to de-escalate its standoff with Washington, he said Tuesday.

Moon Seong Mook, a former South Korean military official and current senior analyst for the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, said it’s highly unlikely North Korea has the real-world capability to match Ri’s words.

North Korea’s aging MiG fighters won’t stand a chance against much more powerful U.S. fighters escorting long-range bombers.

And while North Korea touted in May that it’s ready to deploy new surface-to-air missiles that analysts say could potentially hit targets as far as 93 miles away, it’s questionable how much of a threat the unproven system could pose to U.S. aircraft operating far off the country’s coast, Moon said.

It’s also unclear whether North Korea would be able to even see the advanced U.S. warplanes when they come.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers in a closed-door briefing Tuesday that the North’s inadequate radar systems failed to detect the B-1B bombers as they flew east of North Korea.

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