The US military has flown two B-2 stealth bombers over South Korea in what it called a “deterrence” mission following threats from the North.
The two nuclear-capable planes flew a 13,000-mile round trip from an air base in Missouri, dropping a dummy bomb on a target range in the South.
It comes after state television in North Korea said the country’s military had been ordered to be ready to strike US bases in Guam, Hawaii and mainland America.
The planes were taking part in a joint South Korea-US military exercise that has inflamed tensions with Pyongyang, which has threatened to unleash an “all-out war” backed by nuclear weapons.
“This …. demonstrates the United States’ ability to conduct long range, precision strikes quickly and at will,” the US military said in a statement.
“The B-2 bomber is an important element of America’s enduring and robust extended deterrence capability in the Asia-Pacific region.”
In a telephone call with his South Korean counterpart, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said that Seoul could rely on US military protection, including “the nuclear umbrella, conventional strike means and missile defence”.
The US mission follows a decision by North Korea to cut another military hotline with the South, as state media said the country’s leadership would meet in the coming days to discuss taking a “drastic turn”.