TEHRAN (defapress) - US bombers and fighter escorts flew off the coast of North Korea on Saturday in a show of force against its nuclear weapons program, escalating already sky-high tensions.
News ID: 66032
Publish Date: 24September 2017 - 15:03
The hermit state's foreign minister meanwhile derided Donald
Trump as "mentally deranged" at the United Nations, while the US
president fired back on Twitter with fresh threats.
The latest exchange of bellicose rhetoric comes as
international alarm mounts over Pyongyang's weapons ambitions -- including a
suggestion this week that the country is considering detonating an H-bomb over
the Pacific, AFP reported.
US bombers have carried out similar flights before, as the
United States and the international community struggle to rein in North Korea's
But in a new stage for such show-of-force operations, the
Pentagon stressed this was the furthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
between the two Koreas that any US fighter or bomber has flown off North
Korea's coast in this century.
"This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a
clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any
threat," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.
"We are prepared to use the full range of military
capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies."
The Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flown Saturday are based
in Guam, and were accompanied by F-15C Eagle fighter escorts from Okinawa,
Japan, White said. They flew over international waters off the east coast of
There was another reason for concern after an underground
rumble near North Korea's nuclear test site. China at first said it suspected
But it was later ruled by a nuclear test ban watchdog and
other experts to be a shallow 3.5-magnitude earthquake and likely an aftershock
from the hermit state's latest nuclear test on September 3.
This week saw a blistering war of words between Kim and
Trump, with the US leader using his maiden speech at the United Nations General
Assembly to warn that Washington would "totally destroy" the North if
America or its allies were threatened.
Pyongyang, which says it needs nuclear weapons to protect
itself against the threat of a US invasion, responded on Friday with a rare
personal rebuke from Kim, who called Trump "mentally deranged" and
threatened the "highest level of hardline countermeasure in history."
North Korean Foreign Minister RI Yong-ho took things
further. He, too, dismissed Trump as deranged, and said the US president's
threats had increased the chances of military confrontation.
RI told the UN General Assembly in New York that Trump's vow
to "totally destroy" his country had made "our rockets' visit to
the entire US mainland all the more inevitable."
Describing Trump as a "mentally deranged person full of
megalomania," Ri said the US leader who "holds the nuclear
button" posed "the gravest threat to international peace and security
Trump later responded on Twitter, insulting Kim once more
and appearing to threaten both men.
"Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN
if he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much
longer!" he wrote late Saturday night.
Washington announced tougher restrictions Friday aimed at
curbing North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile program, building on tough
new UN sanctions aimed at choking Pyongyang of cash.
Russia and China have both appealed for an end to the
escalating rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang.
But on the fringes of the UN meeting this week, RI upped the
tensions further, telling reporters Pyongyang might now consider detonating a
hydrogen bomb outside its territory.
Monitoring groups estimate that the nuclear test conducted
in North Korea earlier this month had a yield of 250 kilotons, which is 16
times the size of the US bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.