US bombers fly close to North Korean shores in show of force
US bombers flew over waters east of North Korea on Saturday in a show of force, flying further north over the border with South Korea than ever before this century. The B-1B Lancer bombers were escorted by fighter jets as they flew in international airspace. "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," said Dana White, spokesman for the Pentagon. The Pentagon said the flight was in response to the "grave threat" that North Korea posed to the Asia-Pacific region, and the international community. The flights are a "demonstration of US resolve and a clear message" that President Donald Trump "has many military options to defeat any threat," she said. Ms White added: "we are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies." Participants of a mass rally shout slogans as they gather before a banner reading 'let us beat down the sanctions of the imperialists with great progress of self-reliance' on Kim Il-Sung sqaure in Pyongyang on September 23, 2017 Credit: AFP The flights come at the end of a heated week of rhetoric, with Mr Trump threatening to "totally destroy" the country, and Kim Jong-un responding, in a rare first-person letter in the state press, that Mr Trump was a "dotard". Some analysts have expressed concern at what they see as the goading of Mr Kim. Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, which supports nuclear weapon reduction and eventual elimination, said the US risks a “stumble into war.” Trump: We'll deal with 'Little Rocket Man' Kim Jong-u 01:34 He told The Hill: “We have the pressure. It’s time for the engagement. You have got to walk back from the brink here." Michael Fuchs, who worked at the state department under Barack Obama said that "by any measure President Trump’s quote-unquote ‘strategy’ is not working.” “This is squarely in the hands of the president himself," he said. “The rest of his administration, so far at least, seems willing to carry out a strategy focused on deterrence, reassurance, pressure and diplomacy. Members of the People's Security Council take part an anti-U.S. rally, in this September 23, 2017 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. Credit: REUTERS "But the president from time to time lobs a grenade on top of these efforts, and spins the escalation up again.” But Mr Trump's supporters praised his bold stance. Duncan Hunter, a Republican congressman for California, worried that the North Koreans might soon be able to strike the west coast of the United States with a nuclear weapon. “The question is, do you wait for one of those? Or two? Do you preemptively strike them? And that’s what the president has to wrestle with,” he said. Kim Jong Un's message for Trump 01:28 “I would preemptively strike them. You could call it declaring war, call it whatever you want.” John Bolton, who was George W. Bush's ambassador to the United Nations, said he thought a pre-emptive strike could soon be considered. “We’re getting very close to that point,” he said.