Tensions are high over Pyongyang’s ballistic missile and atomic programmes, which in recent months have seen it test ICBMs and carry out its sixth nuclear blast..
The United States bombers overflew the Korean peninsula Thursday as part of an exercise with Japanese and South Korean warplanes, the US Air Force said, days before President Donald Trump arrives in the region for a trip set to be dominated by the nuclear-armed North.
The military aircraft took off from the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and flew to Japanese airspace where they were joined by Japanese F-2 fighter jets, the US Pacific Air Forces said in a statement. They then returned to base.
According to US Missile Defense Agency,Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system located in Kodiak, Alaska, was successfully tested on Saturday night, Alaska time.
The US Pacific Air Force said,Two B-1B aircraft took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, and were joined west of Japan by Japan Air Self-Defense Force fighters.
“The Lancers then transited overland to Korea to integrate with Republic of Korea fighters in the Yellow Sea,” the aircraft later returned “to their respective home stations.” said in a statement.
The exercise was part of the “continuous bomber presence” mission in the Pacific and “was not in response to any current event,”
Associated Press has reported that, a medium-range ballistic missile was air-launched over the Pacific, and that the THAAD system detected, tracked and intercepted the target.
General Terrence J O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander said,“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” “Diplomacy remains the lead. However, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario.”
”If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing.”he added”.
“The test-fire reconfirmed the reliability of the ICBM system, demonstrated the capability of making a surprise launch of the ICBM in any region and place any time, and clearly proved that the whole US mainland is in the firing range of the DPRK missiles, (Kim) said with pride,” KCNA, Pyongyang’s state-run news outlet stated.
US President Donald Trump has warned of “fire and fury” in response to Pyongyang’s threats, and derisively dubbed Kim “Rocket Man”, who responded by calling him a “dotard”.
This week the North’s KCNA news agency described the US president as “incurably mentally deranged”.
There have been several occasions when the United States sends warplanes out on sorties to the Korean Peninsula. B-1 bombers were flown out in response to North Korea’s banned missile tests.
Another flyover occurred when Otto Warmbier, an American college student died just days after being released from a North Korean prison.
The South Korea President Moon Jae-In has insisted that no military action on the peninsula can be taken without Seoul’s approval.
In an interview with Yonhap, Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said diplomacy was Washington’s “main effort now”
“The discussion will also be about what more can we do, what more can all countries do to resolve this short of war,”
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un claimed the ICBM test was a “stern warning” to US President Donald Trump.
KCNA news agency report that United States would not be safe from destruction if it tried to attack North Korea, the country’s state run.