Tensions between the US and North Korea are not new. In fact a drunk president Nixon almost launched a tactical nuclear strike against the North Koreans in April 1969.

Only months after Nixon took power the North Koreans shot down an American EC-121 spy plane (call sign: Deep Sea) over the Sea of Japan on the 15th of April killing all 31 American servicemen on board. Nixon was furious and called the Joint Chiefs to present a plan for a tactical nuclear strike as retaliation. It has been suggested that Nixon was drunk at the time of the call, and only the intervention of Henry Kissinger, the National Security Advisor, who called the Joint Chiefs and asked them not to proceed until the following morning in order to give Nixon time to sober up.

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In 2010 an American pilot, Bruce Charles, who was based in South Korea at the time revealed that he was put on alert to drop a 330 kiloton nuclear bomb on a North Korea airstrip. It appears that the shooting down of the EC-121 was a carefully planned act of aggression, with the MIG fighters used moved to the location they took off from only weeks earlier. An analysis by a former US intelligence officer suggested that “The staging of MiGs to a base close to the EC-121 track, the calm deliberation, timing, and precision characterising the shoot down; and the lack of subsequent confusion in North Korean command and control suggest prior planning and national oversight.”