North Korea threatens to shoot down alleged U.S. ‘spy planes’ in region

FILE - Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said the U.S. would face 'shocking' consequences if it continued alleged reconnaissance in the North Korean region. Jorge Silva/Pool via Bloomberg

The sister of North Korea‘s leader Kim Jong Un said the U.S. would face “shocking” consequences if their military continues alleged reconnaissance around the region.

Kim Yo Jong, a powerful foreign policy official, claimed that Pyongyang’s warplanes successfully repelled a U.S. spy plane that flew over its exclusive economic zone eight times on Monday. The exclusive economic zone around North Korea allows the country to control its own natural resources.

North Korea also threatened to shoot down the U.S. plane.

Kim Yo Jong’s threats came as part of a widespread state media broadcast, The Associated Press reported.

“A shocking incident would occur in the long run in the 20- to 40-kilometre section in which the U.S. spy planes habitually intrude into the sky above the economic water zone,” Kim Yo Jong said in Korean.

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Both the U.S. and South Korea have dismissed Kim Yo Jong’s threats as idle. The U.S. has denied flying a spy plane into North Korean territory and said the flightpath was part of standard reconnaissance in coordination with South Korea’s military.

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Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, called the North’s claim on the airspace violation “just accusations.”

“The United States, as always, remains committed to safely and responsibly flying, sailing, operating anywhere that international law allows and alongside our allies and partners,” Singh said.

On Tuesday, however, Kim Yo Jong maintained that the U.S. had breached the nation’s territory. She said if American military planes continued to attempt to crush North Korean sovereignty, they would face a “very critical flight path,” according to an AP translation.

North Korea earlier Monday also criticized American plans to deploy a nuclear missile submarine near the Korean Peninsula. U.S. and South Korean leaders agreed to the presence of strategic nuclear weapons during a summit in April. North Korea has called the move “undisguised nuclear blackmail.”

Earlier this year, tensions on the Korean Peninsula rose sharply as the pace of North Korean weapon tests and U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises intensified. North Korea has test-fired nearly 100 missiles since the start of 2022. as Kim Jong Un expands a nuclear arsenal he apparently sees as his strongest guarantee of survival.

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In May, the country failed to launch a spy satellite into space. Kim Yo Jong promised to launch another successful satellite soon.

The United States stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression by North Korea. The Canadian Armed Forces are also present in South Korea, and regularly train alongside other nations.

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— With files from The Associated Press

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