North Korea says a pair of strategic US bombers, which recently flew over the Korean Peninsula in joint wargames with the South, practiced dropping a nuclear bomb amid rising tensions in the restive region.
In a Tuesday report, the North’s official KCNA news agency slammed the US for deploying two supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers during a drill with the South Korean air force a day earlier.
It said the bombers conducted “a nuclear bomb dropping drill against major objects” in its territory at a time when US President Donald Trump and “other US warmongers are crying out for making a preemptive nuclear strike” on the North.
“The reckless military provocation is pushing the situation on the Korean Peninsula closer to the brink of nuclear war,” the report added.
The US air force said in a statement that the bombers had flown from Guam to conduct training exercises with the South Korean and Japanese air forces.
The South Korean Defense Ministry also said Monday’s joint maneuvers were conducted to deter provocations by the North and to test readiness against another potential nuclear test.
The deployment of the US bombers comes as tensions on the Korean Peninsula have significantly spiked in recent weeks.
The United States has already sent an aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, to waters off the Korean Peninsula for military exercises with South Korea and Japan.
Washington has expressed concerns over Pyongyang’s rapidly-developing missile and nuclear programs. The two sides have been increasingly trading threats of military action against one another.
The flight of the two bombers came as Trump said he “would be honored” to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in appropriate conditions, without elaborating.
Later, the White House said there are many conditions Pyongyang needs to meet for such a meeting.
“Clearly conditions are not there right now,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, adding, “I don’t see this happening anytime soon.”
Trump’s remarks came a few days after he warned that “a major, major conflict with North Korea” was “absolutely” possible in the ongoing standoff over its nuclear and missile programs.
Pyongyang has been subjected to international pressure, including US sanctions and Security Council resolutions, to abandon its arms development and nuclear programs. Yet, it says the programs are meant to protect the country from US hostility.