Several US military aircraft flew close to North Korea this weekend in a dramatic show of force to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers were escorted by F-15C Eagle fighter jets on Saturday in international airspace over waters east of North Korea.
The Pentagon said the flyover demonstrated the range of military options available to President Donald Trump.
A war between the two nations is looking increasingly likely as tensions between Trump and Kim Jong Un continue to escalate.
The US Air Force has done a number of flyovers in recent months but this is the most controversial one yet. Earlier this month, the US, South Korea, and Japan conducted joint military exercises over and near the Korean Peninsula.
“This is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any US fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century, underscoring the seriousness with which we take the DPRK’s reckless behaviour,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White.
“This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat,” White said. “North Korea’s weapons program is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community. We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies.”
North Korea’s foreign minister responded forcefully on Saturday to Trump’s fiery comments before the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week.
Ri Yong Ho, North Korea’s foreign minister, said that Trump’s insults made “our rocket’s visit to the entire US mainland inevitable all the more,” according to The Associated Press.
He retaliated against Trump’s personal attack on the North Korean leader by calling the president “a mentally deranged person full of megalomania” who is holding “the nuclear button.”
Trump said at the UN that if North Korea didn’t back down from its nuclear aggression, the US would “have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
“No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles,” Trump said.
The president then went back to his latest nickname for the North Korean leader, saying, “Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won#39;t be around much longer!/pmdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) a href=”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/911789314169823232″September 24, 2017/a/blockquote
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North Korea has ramped up its nuclear aggression in recent weeks and fired a missile over Japan last week for the second time in two months.
Earlier this month, North Korea also conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, one the country said was a hydrogen bomb.
In August, following reports from the Defense Intelligence Agency that North Korea could make nuclear warheads small enough to fit on missiles and could have as many as 60 nuclear devices, Trump issued a sharp warning to the country.