A U.S. B-1B bomber on Wednesday joined large-scale U.S.-South Korean military exercises that North Korea has denounced as pushing the peninsula to the brink of nuclear war, as tension mounts between the North and the United States.
The bomber flew from the Pacific U.S.-administered territory of Guam and joined U.S. F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters in the annual exercises, which run until Friday.
The drills come a week after North Korea said it had tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States, as part of a weapons program that it has conducted in defiance of international sanctions and condemnation.
Asked about the bomber’s flight, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing in Beijing: “We hope relevant parties can maintain restraint and not do anything to add tensions on the Korean peninsula.”
North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea, the United States and Japan. Its official KCNA state news agency said at the weekend that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration was “begging for nuclear war” by staging the drills.
It also labeled Trump, who has threatened to destroy North Korea if the United States is threatened, “insane”.
KCNA said on Tuesday that the exercises in which the bomber took part are “simulating an all-out war”, including drills to “strike the state leadership and nuclear and ballistic rocket bases, air fields, naval bases and other major objects…”
U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday urged the Pentagon to start moving U.S. military dependants, such as spouses and children, out of South Korea, saying conflict with North Korea was getting close.
The U.S.-South Korea drills coincide with a rare visit to the isolated North by U.N. political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman.
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