North Korea failed to notice a fleet of US bombers flying up its eastern coast in a massive show of force, it has been claimed.
In a night-time mission on Saturday a group of B-1B Lancer bombers flew further up North Korea’s coastline than any US plane has gone this century.
But the show of strength in international waters failed to have the desired impact because Kim Jong Un’s government failed to notice, according to a South Korean official.
In a night-time mission on Saturday a group of B-1B Lancer bombers (pictured in a file image) flew further up North Korea’s coastline than any US plane has gone this century
Opposition politician Lee Whan Young said the Pentagon had to publicly announce the flight so the North Koreans knew it had happened.
He told NBC News: ‘It looks like North Korea did not anticipate the U.S. Air Force operation as it happened close to midnight, and their radar failed to spot the Lancers.’
The Department of Defense said in a statement on Saturday: ‘This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat.’
Pentagon spokesman Dana White added: ‘This is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any US fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century, underscoring the seriousness with which we take (North Korea’s) reckless behavior.’
It comes as North Korea relocates its warplanes and bolsters air defenses along its eastern coast after accusing President Trump of declaring war.
The move, which was reported by analysts in Seoul, puts the planes within striking distance of US bombers which have been conducting drills alongside aircraft from the South in international airspace near North Korea.
Pyongyang had previously said it has the right to shoot down American warplanes whether or not they had entered the country’s airspace.
Kim Jong-un has redeployed North Korea fighter jets and bolstered air defenses along the country’s east coast, close to where American bombers have been performing drills
The North previously said it has the right to shoot down American bombers whether or not they entered the country’s airspace after accusing President Trump of ‘declaring war’
The inflamed rhetoric came after President Trump told the UN general assembly that America would have ‘no choice but to totally destroy North Korea’ if forced to defend itself and its allies.
That threat brought an unprecedented personal response from Kim Jong-un, who called Trump a ‘mentally deranged dotard’ and raised the prospect of carrying out a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean.
The war of words showed no sign of slowing down on Tuesday as Trump started the day by tweeting that North Korea had tortured arrested American student Otto Warmbier ‘beyond belief’.
Warmbier was jailed in the hermit state in 2016 for stealing a propaganda poster while on holiday in Pyongyang, before being handed back to the US in a coma earlier this year. He died shortly afterwards.
Medical examiners have been unable to determine how he fell into the coma, but say there were no obvious signs of torture.
While Trump has repeatedly stated that a military solution is not his preferred choice, international observers and world leaders are nervous that heightened tensions could unintentionally spill over into armed conflict.
Ri Yong Ho, North Korea’s foreign minister, made the claims to the United Nations amid fears that a war of words between Trump and Kim could spill over into conflict
On Tuesday Russia warned that war on the Korean peninsula would be ‘catastrophic’ as China and South Korea urged Trump and Kim to back down.
The Kremlin’s foreign ministry said it is working ‘behind the scenes’ on finding a political solution to the North Korea crisis.
Government official Mikhail Ulyanovwho added that the current US approach to North Korea represents little more than a dead end and that the use of sanctions against Kim had almost been exhausted.
Meanwhile Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said war on the Korean peninsula would have no winner.
His South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha added: ‘It is imperative that we, Korea and the US together, manage the situation in order to prevent further escalation of tensions or any kind of accidental military clashes which can quickly go out of control.’
Counting the human cost of war on the Korean Peninsula, retired Air Force general Rob Givens said 20,000 people would like die each day in the South as long as the conflict continued.
The estimate is based on Pentagon predictions, and does not account for deaths in the North, or the potential used of nuclear weapons.
‘There is only one way that this war ends. With North Korea’s defeat — but at what cost?,’ Givens said.
World leaders have warned there would be ‘no winners’ from a war on the Korean Peninsula as they urged for calm (pictured, military drills in South Korea this week)