USA TODAY – DOUG STANGLIN
U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers and F-15 jets, flying in international waters, carried out a show of force Saturday off the coast of North Korea aimed at countering what the Pentagon called Pyongyang’s “reckless behavior.”
The Pentagon said the operation was taking place at the farthest point north of the Demilitarized Zone, which separates North and South Korea, than any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft has flown this century.
Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said the operation was aimed at “underscoring the seriousness with which we take (North Korea’s) reckless behavior.”
“This mission is a demonstration of U.S. 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 U.S. homeland and our allies.”
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.
Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho called Trump “a mentally deranged person full of megalomania” who is holding “the nuclear button.”
He said Trump’s personal insults against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, make “our rocket’s visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more.”
In a speech this week before the world body, Trump warned North Korea that it could face potential obliteration and mocked the North’s young leader as a “Rocket Man” on a “suicide mission.”