SEOUL (Reuters) – The United States flew two supersonic B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula in a show of force on Sunday after Pyongyang’s recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), the U.S. and South Korean Air Forces said.
North Korea said it conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday that proved its ability to strike America’s mainland, drawing a sharp warning from U.S. President Donald Trump.
The B-1B flight was in direct response to the missile test and the previous July 3 launch of the “Hwansong-14” rocket, the U.S. statement said. The South Korean air force said the flight was conducted early on Sunday.
The bombers took off from a U.S. air base in Guam, and were joined by Japanese and South Korean fighter jets during the exercise, according to the statement.
“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” Pacific Air Forces commander General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy said in the statement.
“If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing”.
The U.S. has in the past used overflights of the supersonic B1-B “Lancer” bomber as a show of force in response to North Korean missile or nuclear tests.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally supervised the midnight test launch of the missile on Friday night and said it was a “stern warning” for the United States that it would not be safe from destruction if it tries to attack, the North’s official KCNA news agency said.
North Korea’s state television broadcast pictures of the launch, showing the missile lifting off in a fiery blast in darkness and Kim cheering with military aides.
China, the North’s main ally, said it opposed North Korea’s missile launches, which it said violate United Nations Security Council resolutions designed to curb Pyongyang’s banned nuclear and missile programs.
“At the same time, China hopes all parties act with caution, to prevent tensions from continuing to escalate,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
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