Two U.S. bombers alongside Japanese and South Korean jet fighters flew over South Korea, conducting military drills which provoked anger from Pyongyang just before President Donald Trump’s 12-day visit to Asia.
The U.S. Pacific Command said the drill was planned previously and does not come in response to recent events. Regardless, it angered North Korea which believes the exercise was a “surprise nuclear strike drill.”
“The reality clearly shows that the gangster-like U.S. imperialists are the very one who is aggravating the situation of the Korean peninsula and seeking to ignite a nuclear war,” North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said.
It was also said that a bombing drill on a firing range in South Korea was included as a simulation of a nuclear strike on the North. The U.S. Pacific Command did not comment on the inclusion of a bombing drill. Earlier this week, the leader of South Korea strongly advised that the U.S. is not to take any military action against North Korea without “prior consent of the Republic of Korea.”
As a result of more frequent B-1B flyovers in the area, in August North Korea threatened to launch missiles near Guam, the U.S. island where the base of the bombers is. The U.S. then dispatched stealth jets as a warning to Pyongyang. Later in September, bombers from Guam flew north of the demilitarized zone dividing the Korean Peninsula, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Trump is scheduled to arrive in Asia this Sunday, where he is to visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. The aim of the trip is for Trump to gain more international support to force North Korea to give up its nuclear program, according to officials.
“The president recognizes that we’re running out of time (to deal with North Korea) and will ask all nations to do more,” H.R. McMaster said.