Rep. Ted Poe told Newsmax on Thursday that the two American nuclear-capable stealth bombers sent over South Korea in a training exercise were a warning to Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un that “he’s being braggadocious about his military, and we should prepare to protect our ally and our own sovereignty.”
“We’re showing our muscle,” said the Texas Republican, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We sent the two most sophisticated airplanes in the world over South Korea.”
He added that, while the growing threats from the 30-year-old Kim prove that “he is not stable, we should take him seriously. Just because he is making outlandish threats against the U.S. does not mean that he is not serious.”
The U.S. military made a rare announcement on Thursday that it had sent two B-2 Spirit bombers from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to drop munitions on a South Korean island in a training exercise.
The nonstop 13,000-mile flight showed that the United States could “provide extended deterrence to our allies in the Asia-Pacific region” and that it could “conduct long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will,” the American command in Seoul said.
The test came as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reiterated Washington’s “unwavering” commitment to defend the South in a telephone conversation with his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin, The New York Times reports.
It also followed more bellicose rhetoric from the North’s Kim this week that war could break out “at any moment.”
“The North Koreans are doing more than saber-rattling,” Poe told Newsmax on Thursday. “They are verbally inflicting terrorist threats not only against our ally, South Korea, but the United States.
“Behind the scenes, they’re trying to back up those threats of destroying us and South Korea by moving toward a more militaristic dictatorship.”
Poe, who also is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, said that most of the North’s gross domestic product was spent on military weaponry.
“The people are starving. There’s no infrastructure in the country. All the money is going toward a military arsenal. And they’re adding to their arsenal of not only conventional weapons but nuclear weapons.”
The North wants intercontinental ballistic missiles “to destroy the United States,” Poe said.
He added the United States’ long-standing policy in dealing with the North — sending aid to buy food in exchange for not amassing nuclear weapons — has been woefully ineffective.
“They play us. They take our money — I don’t know if it goes for food — and they still build their nuclear capability,” Poe said. “That system has not worked.”
Neither has working through the United Nations, which imposed greater sanctions on Pyongyang earlier this month in response to last month’s nuclear test.
Kim also this month declared invalid the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War. Since there was no formal peace treaty between the North and the South, technically the Korean Peninsula remains at war.
“That hadn’t slowed down the militaristic arsenal of the North Koreans,” Poe told Newsmax. “We can’t wait around for the U.N.”
He praised President Barack Obama for sending the B-2 stealth bombers in the training exercise, saying he was “showing our apparent resolve to defend the South Koreans and defend our own international interests.
“That’s what sending two of the most sophisticated airplanes in the world there meant,” Poe said. “That’s a good step on the part of the president.”
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