In response to the latest missile launch by Pyongyang, U.S., Japan and North Korea staged US B-1 exercise, as well as missile defense tests.
U.S. supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers, together with Japanese and South Korean fighter jets fly over the Korean peninsula in display of military might.
As a part of missile defense tests, the U.S. air force fired a projectile which was intercepted over the Pacific by a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) unit in Alaska.
Pacific Air Forces Commander General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy said that North Korea is the ‘most urgent threat’ to the stability in the region, and warned that the U.S. is ready to respond with ‘lethal force’.
“If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing,” he said.
Earlier this month, North Korea carried out its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test. Despite objections from China, the U.S. responded by installing the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea with the aim of shooting down any potential missile that North Korea might fire at the south.
On Friday, North Korea tested a second ICBM, and claimed that U.S. cities were in striking range.
“We have demonstrated our ability to fire our intercontinental ballistic rocket at any time and place and that the entire U.S. territory is within our shooting range,” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said, cited by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
North Korean Hwasong-14 missile reached an altitude of 3,725km (2,314.6 miles) and flew 998km (620 miles) for 47 minutes and 12 seconds. Pentagon said the missile flew 1,000 kilometers, while Japan stated it landed in its exclusive economic zone.
While the regime on Pyongyang warned the U.S. of “a stern action of justice” in case of new sanctions, China said it opposes the latest missile launch.
“At the same time, China hopes all parties act with caution, to prevent tensions from continuing to escalate,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The UN Security Council is expected to hold another meeting next week to discuss new sanctions against North Korea.
Photo credit: Reuters