US flies bombers over Korean peninsula for military drill
Four F-35B stealth fighters and two B-1B bombers flew over the peninsula to “demonstrate the deterrence capability of the U.S.-South Korea alliance against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats”, the ministry said in a statement. They were the first flights since the North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3 and staged an intermediate-range missile test over Japan Sept. 15, sending regional tensions soaring.
The U.S. jets few alongside four South Korean F-15K jet fighters as part of “routine” training, the statement said, adding that the allies would continue such exercises to “improve their joint operation capabilities against contingencies.” The previous such flights were on Aug. 31.
The U.S. is ramping up pressure on the North, with its ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, warning that Pyongyang would be “destroyed” if it refused to end its “reckless” weapons drive.
The subject is set to dominate U.S. President Donald Trump’s address to the U.N. General Assembly and his meetings with South Korean and Japanese leaders this week.
Tensions flared again when Kim Jong-Un’s regime tested what it termed a hydrogen bomb many times more powerful than its previous device.
The North also fired a ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific on Sept. 15, responding to new U.N. sanctions over its atomic test with what appeared to be its longest-ever missile flight.
Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In spoke by phone Saturday and vowed to exert “stronger pressure” on the North, with Moon’s office warning that further provocation would put it on a “path of collapse.”
Trump has also not ruled out a military option, which could leave millions of people in the South Korean capital vulnerable to potential retaliatory attack.