After North Korean drones violated South Korean airspace and flew in the skies of Seoul, the White House stated that it is closely consulting with South Korea on the infiltration and that it is keenly aware of the need for South Korea to protect its territory.
In answer to a question by The Dong-A Ilbo, the NSC spokesperson said that the White House is aware of the report that North Korean unmanned aerial vehicles crossed the military demarcation line between the two countries. The White House stressed the U.S.’s ironclad commitment to defend South Korea against North Korea. The State Department also stated the same effect.
That the White House NSC announced that South Korea and the U.S. are in close coordination on how to assess the drone crossings of North Korea indicates that the U.S. considers that this might be more than just a simple provocation. Some experts are concerned that North Korean drones may have infiltrated deep inside Seoul as part of its reconnaissance activity to test the responsiveness of the ROK-U.S. military alliance and to identify targets of local provocation by photographing military facilities. Analysts observe that the U.S. may send a warning message to North Korea in response by deploying strategic assets and reconnaissance assets.
Experts in the U.S. expressed concerns that South Korea’s failure to shoot down North Korean drones, which showed weakness in the air defense system, may “pose a serious threat.” David Stilwell, former Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, commented that “North Korean drones’ flying over Gimpo and Incheon, where there are frequent flight departures, is a direct threat” and that if the Korean military and U.S. Forces in Korea cannot shoot down drones, “they should expeditiously develop one.”
Bruce Bennet, a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation, said North Korea has reportedly dispatched agents to Russia to get a hold of technology for developing uncrewed aerial vehicles. “North Korea could deliver biochemical weapons with hundreds of drones that it possesses,” Mr. Bennet said. “Although there has been a continued concern about North Korean drone threats, South Korea has not been prepared for it. South Korea must adopt ‘zero infiltration’ policy.”