The US is set to deploy four F-22 stealth fighter jets in South Korea as President Park Geun-hye warned of an imminent collapse of the North Korean regime. The sophisticated aircraft are expected to reach the Korean peninsula on 17 February.
Washington's latest deployment of the fifth-generation Raptors is part of efforts to intensify its strategic assets in South Korea, in the wake of any frantic developments in the region. "The US military plans to deploy four F-22s to the Korean Peninsula tomorrow [17 February]," a South Korean official told Seoul's Yonhap news agency.
Ever since the defiant Pyongyang's Kim Jong-un regime conducted its fourth nuclear test on 6 January – followed by its satellite launch on 7 February – tensions have been high in the Korean peninsula. Pyongyang's harsh critics – mainly the US, South Korea, Japan – have been heightening security measures to prepare for provocative acts emerging from the North.
The US's decision has come at a time when the South Korean president issued a strong warning to Pyongyang. Speaking in the Seoul parliament, Park said that if the North does not scale back its nuclear ambitions, it is bound to end up in the "regime collapse".
"We should no longer be deceived or threatened by North Korea, nor offer them unconditional support. Now is the time to seek for fundamental solutions to change the North and to implement the plans with courage," she told lawmakers at the National Assembly.
She added: "The Kim Jong-un regime could deploy nuclear-tipped missiles if time passes without any change."
Park specifically chose to address the South Korean parliament to drum up public support against North Korea. The parliamentary address follows Seoul's decision to shut the jointly-run Kaesong industrial complex. South Korean authorities have accused its rival Koreans of funnelling a majority of money generated from the industrial zone towards it contentious nuclear programmes.