US bombers on Saturday flew further north of the Korean Demilitarised Zone than ever before this century, staging a show of force as North Korea’s foreign minister warned that the US was pushing them closer towards retaliation.
Ri Yong-ho, speaking at the United Nations general assembly, described President Donald Trump as “an old gambler” who “has tried to turn the UN arena into a gangsters’ nest where money is respected and bloodshed the order of the day.”
“He committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets’ visit to the entire US mainland inevitable all the more,” said Mr Ri, referencing Mr Trump’s speech on Tuesday at the UN.
“What else could be a bigger threat than the violent remarks such as pouring ‘fire and fury’, ‘total destruction’ coming from the top authority of the world’s biggest nuclear power.
“The very reason the DPRK had to possess nuclear weapons is because of the US and it had to strengthen and develop its nuclear force onto the current level to cope with the US.”
The Pentagon said the flight was in response to the “grave threat” that North Korea posed to the Asia-Pacific region, and the international community.
“This is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any US fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century, underscoring the seriousness with which we take (North Korea’s) reckless behavior,” said Dana White, spokesman for the Pentagon.
The flights are a “demonstration of US resolve and a clear message” that President Donald Trump “has many military options to defeat any threat,” she said.
Ms White added: “we are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies.”
The flights come at the end of a heated week of rhetoric, with Mr Trump threatening to “totally destroy” the country, and Kim Jong-un responding, in a rare first-person letter in the state press, that Mr Trump was a “dotard”.
Some analysts have expressed concern at what they see as the goading of Mr Kim.
Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, which supports nuclear weapon reduction and eventual elimination, said the US risks a “stumble into war.”
He told The Hill: “We have the pressure. It’s…