Two supersonic US bombers flew over the Korean peninsula in a ‘show of force’ against Kim Jong-Un on Tuesday, as Donald Trump was presented with options for dealing with North Korea.
The two US B-1 bombers carried out a training exercise with Japanese and South Korean military aircraft amid growing tension over North Korea’s nuclear programs.
That was despite threats from the North Korean government that US planes would be shot down if they got too close to the country.
The same day, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford released a statement saying that Trump had been briefed on how to deal with the Kim regime.
The briefing ‘focused on a range of options to respond to any form of North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons,’ they said.
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A US Pacific Command B-1B Lancer takes off from Guam on Tuesday as part of a combined training mission with Japanese and South Korean fighter aircraft around North Korea
Two Lancers (pictured) flew out for the mission. That came as it was announced that Donald Trump had been briefed on ‘a range of responses’ to North Korean nuclear aggression
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Joseph Dunford (seen left in September) said Trump’s briefing also took place on Tuesday
The president’s briefing came days after Trump – who is involved in an escalating war of words and insults with Kim – implied on Twitter that war could be inevitable.
‘Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid,’ he tweeted Saturday.
He continued by saying it ‘hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of US negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!’
Trump’s bullish behavior with regards to North Korea has almost become a background hum at this point.
So the emergence of Mattis and Dunford, both well-respected military leaders, is likely intended to emphasize that the White House is serious about its commitment to the region – and to curtailing the threat posed by Kim.
The pair were previously wheeled out in September to make a similar pronouncement that threats to the US or its allies would be met with a ‘massive’ military response that would be ‘both effective and overwhelming’.
Mattis and Dunford were likely wheeled out to show that the White House is serious in its North Korean position, as Trump is engaged in a protracted war of words with the country
This tweet, and the one above, were posted on Saturday – the latest volley in a series of bullish threats and intimations about North Korea
A U-2S ultra-high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the US Air Force lands at Osan Air Base during the drills
Tuesday’s operation was the first time US Pacific Command B-1B Lancers have conducted combined training with Japanese and South Korean fighter aircraft at night.
After entering South Korean airspace, the two bombers carried out air-to-ground missile drills in waters off the east coast of South Korea.
They then flew over the South to waters between that country and China to repeat the drill, the release said.
The South Korean military said this was part of a regular exercise to bolster military defences and also to display the alliance between the United States and South Korea.
US Air Force Major Patrick Applegate said: ‘Flying and training at night with our allies in a safe, effective manner is an important capability shared between the US, Japan and the Republic of Korea and hones the tactical prowess of each nations’ aviators.’
‘This is a clear demonstration of our ability to conduct seamless operations with all of our allies anytime, anywhere,’ the US release quoted him as saying.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un has previously threatened the US and South Korea over what the Stalinist state deems aggressive military drills
The two bombers were accompanied by a pair of F-15K fighters from the South Korean military after leaving their base in Guam, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a news release.
They also risked being shot at by North Korea.
At the end of last month, the country’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, said that the US had ‘declared war’ on the authoritarian state and was ‘right’ to shoot down American planes.
He explained: ‘Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.’
South Korean and US government officials have been raising their guard against more North Korean provocations with the approach of the 72nd anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s ruling party, which fell on Tuesday.
North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth and biggest nuclear test in recent weeks in defiance of UN sanctions as it races towards its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States.
Trump’s administration has been at the forefront of a drive to impose sanctions on the country in response to those tests.
The North Korean party anniversary passed without any missile launches or nuclear tests, but officials are wary the North could engage in more provocations at any time, especially with China to begin its all-important Communist Party Congress on October 18.
The South Korean military said this was part of a regular exercise to bolster military defences and also to display the alliance between the United States and South Korea. Pictured: An F/A-18 fighter at Osan Air Base, south of Seoul, South Korea, yesterday
It comes after reports that North Korean hackers stole hundreds of classified military documents from South Korea including detailed wartime operational plans involving its US ally.
Rhee Cheol-Hee, a lawmaker for the ruling Democratic party, said the hackers had broken into the South’s military network last September and gained access to 235 gigabytes of sensitive data, the Chosun Ilbo daily reported.
Among the leaked documents was Operational Plans 5015 for use in case of war with the North and including procedures for ‘decapitation’ attacks on leader Kim Jong-Un, Rhee said.
The United States fought a bloody conflict in Korea from 1950-1953 that ultimately ended in stalemate and the continued division of the peninsula after hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops entered on the side of the north, turning it into a war of attrition.
Pictured: North Korea’s intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 lifting
off from the launching pad at an undisclosed location near Pyongyang. North Korea has threatened to fire nuclear missiles at the United States and its allies