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US flies bombers off North Korean coast to send message on America’s ‘military options’

South Korean Defense Ministry/Getty Images
South Korean Defense Ministry/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. flew bombers and fighter jets along the North Korean coast Saturday to send a message about the “military options” open to America in dealing with Kim Jong Un’s regime, the Pentagon said.

U.S. B-1B Lancer bombers from Guam and F-15 fighter jets from Okinawa, Japan, joined in the exercise, which was in international airspace to the east of North Korea.

“This is the farthest north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft has flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century, underscoring the seriousness with which we take DPRK’s reckless behavior,” Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said in a statement, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The show of strength comes days after President Donald Trump increased economic sanctions and threatened military action against the regime.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump told the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Tuesday. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

Saturday’s flight off the North Korean coast is a “demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” the Pentagon said, adding, “We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies.”

Kim Jong Un fired back in a statement Thursday responding to Trump’s U.N. address. He called Trump “mentally deranged” and said the president was “playing with fire.” The North Korean leader said Trump’s speech convinced him that he’s leading his nation down the right path.

“Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of a war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history,” Kim said.

Trump’s executive order, issued Thursday, expanded the authority to target individuals and companies that finance or facilitate trade with North Korea — a move the U.S. president said will disrupt critical North Korean shipping and trade networks.

The North Korean regime has conducted 14 ballistic missile tests and one underground nuclear test since the beginning of the year.

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