Two U.S. B-1B bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula on Thursday, the U.S. Air Force said in a statement – an action that North Korea has since criticized and called a “nuclear strike drill.”
Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers, flying from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam and escorted by U.S. and South Korean fighter jets, flew over South Korea in what North Korean state news agency KCNA said was a “surprise nuclear strike drill.”
“The gangster-like U.S. imperialists are ceaselessly resorting to their frantic nuclear threat and blackmail to stifle the DPRK with nukes at any cost,” the KCNA said. “On Thursday they let a formation of B-1B nuclear strategic bombers stationed at the Anderson Air Force Base on Guam stealthily fly into South Korea again to stage a surprise nuclear strike drill targeting the DPRK.”
“The bilateral continuous bomber presence (CBP) mission was planned in advance … and was not in response to any current event,” the statement said.
The flyover came as President Donald Trump readied to leave for Asia on a 12-day trip. He is scheduled to visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The drill comes just one week after two additional aircraft carriers joined the USS Ronald Reagan in the Pacific.
In October, North Korea again threatened to bomb the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific, this in light of what Pyongyang refers to as “reckless moves” by the U.S.
The last threat to Guam came in August on the heels of President Trump saying North Korea would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continues to threaten the U.S.
North Korea had also responded to the latest presence of American and allied aircraft over the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. in early October sent bombers over both coasts of South Korea to conduct mock military drills.
The show of force during tense times came despite North Korea threatening to shoot down U.S. bombers if it has to, after the country led by dictator Kim Jong Un claimed the U.S. declared war when President Trump tweeted that North Korea “won’t be around much longer” if it keeps threatening the United States.
The United States and South Korea have most recently performed joint naval exercises, and such events especially enrage North Korea, which views them as rehearsals for war and invasions of the country.
The U.S. had sent bombers in late September – the aircraft flew the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any U.S. bomber or fighter aircraft has been in the 21st Century.
The President also recently shut down Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statements that the U.S. has an open line of communication with Pyongyang, and would hope to solve the conflict diplomatically. Trump alluded to the fact that his Administration and, most likely, the U.S. Military would be taking care of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.