US bombers fly off North Korea's coast in show of force

Here is the latest news from The Associated Press at 4:40 am EDT

The bombers were joined by U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter escorts from Okinawa, Japan.

This is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone any USA fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea's coast in the 21st century, White said.

According to Reuters, the B-1B bombers were escorted by fighter jets and flew in global airspace over North Korea's eastern coast.

Defense Department spokesman Dana White says in a statement that the mission shows how seriously the US takes what he calls North Korea's "reckless behavior".

B-1 bombers are no longer part of the USA nuclear force, but they are capable of dropping large numbers of conventional bombs. It is able to deliver a heavier payload than the B-52 and B-2 bombers, and is also quicker than the other two, capable of reaching the Korean Peninsula from Guam in two hours.

"North Korea's weapons programme is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire worldwide community".

#PACOM stands prepared to use our full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies if called upon to do so.

The patrols came after experts said a small quake near North Korea's nuclear test site last night was probably not man-made, easing fears the North had exploded another nuclear bomb, just weeks after its last one. South Korean Air Force's F-15K fighters took part in a joint exercise with the USA aircraft.

The B-1B Lancer strategic bombers entered service in the mid-1980s.

South Korea's Blue House said Sunday in a statement that the flyover of the B-1B bombers near the military demarcation line "came with close cooperation between South Korea and the United States".

The display of military might comes as tensions between Pyongyang and Washington are mounting, most recently with North Korea's foreign minister blasting President Trump in a speech Saturday at the United Nations.

Meanwhile, a top North Korean official told the UN General Assembly that Pyongyang will take "merciless preventive action" if the United States shows any sign of "decapitating" the regime. "Rocket Man should have been handled a long time ago".

However, the foreign minister then said that North Korea's nuclear force is "to all intents and purposes, a war deterrent for putting an end to nuclear threat of the USA and for preventing its military invasion, and our ultimate goal is to establish the balance of power with the US".

"It is not clear Kim Jong-un is receiving that message".

Trump has said he won't allow it, although the U.S.so far has not used military force to impede the North's progress.

This isn't the first demonstration of force from the USA military in recent weeks.

The predawn flight followed a North Korean threat to detonate a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

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