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North Korea Accuses US of ‘Nuclear Strike Drill’ After Bomber Flights

North Korea Accuses US of ‘Nuclear Strike Drill’ After Bomber FlightsNorth Korea Accuses US of ‘Nuclear Strike Drill’ After Bomber Flights

US Air Force B-1 bombers, accompanied by fighter jets from South Korea and Japan, conducted a flyover near the Korean peninsula on Thursday, according to a statement from the US Air Force —a move that has drawn harsh criticism from North Korea ahead of US President Donald Trump’s trip to the region.

Two B-1B Lancers from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam rendezvoused with the Japanese and South Korean jets as part of the planned “bilateral integration” exercise —at one point flying over South Korea, CNN reported.

The “continuous bomber presence mission” was planned in advance and was “not in response to any current event,” according to US Air Force spokesperson Capt. Candice Dillitte.

US B-1 bombers flying from Guam have been seen regularly over the Korean peninsula amid escalating tensions with Pyongyang —running regular training flights with Japanese and South Korean fighter jets that often provoke the ire of the North Korean regime.

Pyongyang again issued a harsh response in the wake of Thursday’s flight through its state-run media outlet KCNA claiming the exercise was a trial run for a surprise nuclear attack.

“The gangster-like US imperialists are ceaselessly resorting to their frantic nuclear threat and blackmail to stifle the DPRK with nukes at any cost,” a post from KCNA said.

“On Thursday they let a formation of B-1B nuclear strategic bombers stationed at the Anderson Air Force Base on Guam stealthily fly into South Korea again to stage a surprise nuclear strike drill targeting the DPRK.”

The flyover comes after two more US aircraft carriers joined the Japan-based USS Ronald Reagan in the Asia-Pacific region last week.

Analysts say all military assets —the aircraft carriers, the submarine, the B-2s, B-1s, F-22s and F-35s— would play key roles in any strike on North Korea.

The US has maintained a significant military presence near the Korean peninsula ahead of Trump’s visit to the region next week.

Writing for CNN last month, Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said recent US actions “seem based on an idea that raising the risk of war can force China or North Korea to capitulate to Washington’s demands, ignoring recent history.”

“The last 10 months of vague threats and sporadic military provocations prove Kim Jong Un cannot be frightened into surrendering his nuclear arsenal,” he said.

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