Pyongyang condemns US bomber flights near Korean peninsula
Pyongyang/Washington, Nov. 3 (IANS): North Korea on Friday condemned two US bombers flying near the Korean peninsula claiming that the exercise was a trial run for a surprise nuclear attack, media reports said.
US Air Force B-1 bombers, accompanied by fighter jets from South Korea and Japan, conducted a flyover near the Korean peninsula on Thursday, CNN reported.
The Two B-1B Lancers from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam rendezvoused with the Japanese and South Korean jets as part of the planned “bilateral integration” exercise — at one point flying over Seoul.
In response, Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said: “The gangster-like US imperialists are ceaselessly resorting to their frantic nuclear threat and blackmail to stifle North Korea with nukes at any cost.
“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 North Korea.
“The reality clearly shows that the United States is the very one who is aggravating the situation of the Korean Peninsula and seeking to ignite a nuclear war,” KCNA added.
The “continuous bomber presence mission” was planned in advance and was “not in response to any current event”, Air Force spokesperson Capt. Candice Dillitte said on Thursday.
The flyover comes after two more US aircraft carriers joined the Japan-based USS Ronald Reagan in the Asia-Pacific region last week, CNN reported.
The Pentagon said the movement of the carriers and their accompanying strike groups was long planned, as the USS Nimitz heads back to the US West Coast after a deployment in the Middle East and the USS Theodore Roosevelt heads to that area to replace it.
On Monday, US, South Korean and Japanese officials issued a statement urging North Korea to “refrain from irresponsible provocations” and walk away from its “destructive and reckless path” of weapons development.
Thursday’s development comes ahead of President Donald Trump’s Asia tour, which runs from November 5-14, to visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, and whose agenda will be partly focused on dealing with the North Korean crisis, reports Efe news.
The US has repeatedly deployed the B-1Bs in recent weeks with the apparent aim of deterring Kim Jong-un’s regime from continuing its weapons tests.
Washington and Seoul agreed last week at their annual security meetings to “enhance rotational deployments of US strategic assets in and around the peninsula,” including bomber jets, submarines and nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.