American B-52 bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons have been looming over South Korea off and on this month, part of the ongoing “military drills” and also a constant reminder to South Koreans of the growing tensions with their neighbors to the north.
Pentagon officials as well as South Korea’s defense ministry are cheering the deployments, saying they prove a “US commitment” to extend their nuclear umbrella over the Korean Peninsula.
On the other hand, the North Korean threats are nothing new, and rather the US deployments are just more bellicosity for its own sake, intended to underscore the constant threat of nuclear annihilation Koreans on both sides are faced with as a matter of course.
B-52s have been in active service as nuclear weapons delivery planes since 1955, and are planned to remain in service into the 2040s. The planes can also carry conventional weaponry, and have been used in wars, dropping conventional munitions in Vietnam as well as during both Iraq wars.