North Korea Accuses U.S. of Surveillance Flights, Threatens to Shoot Down Spy Planes in Its Airspace

North Korea issued a warning this week that U.S. spy planes detected within its airspace may be shot down, amidst accusations that American drones and other aircraft were observed conducting surveillance.

The warning followed claims by North Korea that the U.S. had escalated tensions between the countries after an American nuclear submarine was reportedly observed near the Korean peninsula.

A spokesperson for North Korea’s Ministry of National Defense issued the statement on Monday, as reported by the country’s state-run media outlet, the Korean Central News Agency.

The spokesperson said there would be “no guarantee that… the downing of the U.S. Air Force strategic reconnaissance plane will not happen,” referencing past incidents involving shootdowns and intercepts of U.S. aircraft near the South Korean border.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Kim Yo Jong, Deputy Department Director of the Publicity and Information Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea and sister to the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, who emphasized that North Korea would take decisive action if U.S. aircraft entered its airspace.

Sabrina Singh
(Credit: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jack Sanders, DOD)

Speaking with the press on Monday, Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh characterized North Korea’s statements as mere accusations.

“The United States, as always, remains committed to safely and responsibly flying, sailing, operating anywhere that international law allows and alongside our allies and partners,” Singh told reporters at the Pentagon.

South Korean military officials also expressed doubts about the accusations by North Korea, saying the country’s claims that the U.S. had violated its airspace were not true.

Micah Hanks is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of The Debrief. He can be reached by email at Follow his work at and on Twitter: @MicahHanks