US Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb
Squadron, takes-off to fly a bilateral mission with Japanese and
South Korea Air Force jets in the vicinity of the Sea of Japan,
from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, October 10,
SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military flew two strategic
bombers over the Korean peninsula in a show of force late on
Tuesday, as President Donald Trump met with top defense officials
to discuss how to respond to any threat from North Korea.
Tensions have soared between the United States and North Korea
following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang and a string of
increasingly bellicose exchanges between Trump and North Korean
leader Kim Jong Un.
In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan
and conducted its sixth nuclear test, as it fast advances toward
its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of
hitting the U.S. mainland.
The two U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers were accompanied by two F-15K
fighters from the South Korean military after leaving their base
in Guam, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement
After entering South Korean airspace, the two bombers carried out
air-to-ground missile drills in waters off the east coast of
South Korea, then flew over the South to waters between it and
China to repeat the drill, the release said.
The U.S. military said in a separate statement that Japanese
fighters also joined the drill, making it the first night-time
combined exercise for the U.S. bombers with fighters from Japan
and South Korea.
The U.S. bombers had taken off from the Andersen Air Force Base
in Guam. In August, Pyongyang threatened to shoot intermediate
range missiles towards the vicinity of Guam, a target frequently
subjected to sabre-rattling from the North.
US Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb
Squadron, taxi before take off to fly bilateral missions with
Japanese and South Korea Air Force jets in the vicinity of the
Sea of Japan, from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, October 10,
Trump and defense officials discuss options
South Korean and U.S. 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.
Trump on Tuesday hosted a discussion on options to respond to any
North Korean aggression or if necessary to prevent Pyongyang from
threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear
weapons, the White House said in a statement.
Trump was briefed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis and
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford at a
meeting of members of his national security team, the statement
U.S. and South Korean wartime operational plans, including a plan
to wipe out the North Korean leadership, were stolen by North
Korean hackers last year, a South Korean ruling party lawmaker
said on Wednesday.
Some 235 gigabytes of military documents were taken from South
Korea’s Defense Integrated Data Center in September last year,
Democratic Party representative Rhee Cheol-hee said in radio
appearances on Wednesday, citing information from unnamed South
Korean defense officials.
In May, an investigative team inside the defense ministry
announced the hack had been carried out by North Korea, but did
not disclose what kind of information had been taken.
China, North Korea’s main ally and trading partner, has
consistently urged Washington and Pyongyang to lower their
rhetoric and return to the negotiating table.
In an editorial late on Tuesday, the influential Global Times
tabloid expressed alarm at how far the rhetoric on both sides had
gone and how it had increased the risk of a “fatal misjudgment”.
“The international community won’t accept North Korea as a
nuclear power. North Korea needs time and proof to believe that
abandoning its nuclear program will contribute to its own
political and economic advantage. This positive process is worth
a try,” the paper said.
“War would be a nightmare for the Korean Peninsula and
surrounding regions. We strongly urge North Korea and the U.S. to
stop their bellicose posturing and seriously think about a
(Reporting by Christine Kim and Eric Beech; Additional reporting
by Soyoung Kim in Seoul and John Rutwich in Shanghai; Writing by
Lincoln Feast; Editing by Michael Perry)
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