North Korea says the US has flown heavy strategic bombers over the Korean Peninsula and carried out bombing drills simulating attacks on major targets in the country.
The B-1B bombers, escorted by US and South Korean fighter jets, flew on Thursday from a US Air Force base in Guam to conduct a “surprise” strike drill, North’s official KCNA news agency said on Friday.
“The frenzied US scheme of threats and blackmail, which aims to crush our republic with nuclear [weapons], continues in November as it did in October,” the KCNA said.
The US Air Force later said that two Guam-based US B-1B bombers, accompanied by fighter jets from South Korea and Japan, carried out an exercise in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula on Thursday.
“The bilateral continuous bomber presence (CBP) mission was planned in advance … and was not in response to any current event,” the Air Force said in a statement.
Tensions have been building on the Korean Peninsula following a series of nuclear and missile tests by Pyongyang as well as threats of war and personal insults traded between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Trump will tell leaders on a five-nation Asia tour that the world is “running out of time” on North Korea’s nuclear program and that he will give his strategy to isolate Pyongyang a few months before making adjustments, a top White House official said on Thursday.
“The president recognizes that we’re running out of time (to deal with North Korea) and will ask all nations to do more,” White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters at a news briefing.
Trump leaves on Friday for the US state of Hawaii located in the central Pacific Ocean, the first stop en route to Asia where he will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis said last week during a visit to South Korea that the threat from North Korea had “accelerated” and warned of a “massive military response” if Pyongyang uses nuclear weapons against Washington or its allies.