The U.S. has been sending strategic weapons to South Korea in secret as it ramps up pressure against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, DPRK, reaching dangerous levels over increasingly confrontational policies and rhetoric from Washington.
"Surprise dispatch of strategic weapons is effective in maximizing fear in the North as it sends a message that such weapons can be mobilized any time in case of a contingency," a military official told the South Korean outlet the Korea Times.
The report comes just days after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson vowed to explore all options including military action against the DPRK.
The U.S. and South Korea have angered the DPRK with ongoing joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises that kicked off earlier this month, which Pyongyang had said were aimed at conducting a "pre-emptive nuclear attack."
The report also comes a day after Washington confirmed that it had deployed a number of F-35B stealth fighter jets to South Korea, which were used to stimulate attacking targets in the DPRK.
“The deployment of the most advanced aircraft the U.S. Marine Corps has in its inventory to Korea is yet another example of how dedicated the United States is to supporting the ROK-US Alliance,” U.S. Forces Korea Commander General Vincent K. Brooks said in a statement Saturday.
“The training within the Korea Marine Exercise Program helps ensure our readiness and is critical for our alliance as we maintain security and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.
Earlier this month the South Korean government significantly increased the cash reward it offers to those who defect from the DPRK and provide Seoul with intelligence about the government to the north, Yonhap news agency reported Sunday, citing officials.
Earlier this week U.S. officials said that while the military option is on the table, they stressed however that tougher sanctions will be the likely response for the time being, and a senior U.S. official told Reuters Monday the Trump administration was considering these as part of a broad review of DPRK policy.