North Korean state media said on Thursday that tensions between Washington and Pyongyang had increased so much that war had now become inevitable and that the only question was when.
The supersonic jet departed from its base in the US territory of Guam before joining two Japanese F-15 fighters and then took part in military drills on the Korean Peninsula along with Americans and South Korean fighter jets, Bloomberg reported.
Essentially, despite the deep differences bitter tensions, the U.S. and North Korea have deterred each other from attacking - much like the USA and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
The US responded to North Korea's latest missile launch with a simulated bomb run from a B-1B Lancer bomber and an F-22, a marked escalation in military signaling. "The outbreak of war is not in any side's interest. The ones that will suffer the most are ordinary people", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. The foreign minister referenced a comment by the United States envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, in which she said that North Korea would be "utterly destroyed in case of war", calling it a "bloodthirsty tirade". "We are ready to support that, we are ready to take part in facilitating such negotiations", Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying.
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This handout taken and released by the South Korean Defence Ministry in Seoul on December 6, 2017 shows a US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber, two US F-35A and two US F-35B stealth jets flying over South Korea with South Korea's two F-16 and two F-15K fighter jets during a joint military drill.
In September, after North Korea's sixth and largest nuclear test, B-1Bs flew further north along North Korea's coast than at any time in the past 17 years.
B-1 flights represent the US's go-to response for North Korean provocations like missile tests, and the bomber flights always draw a strong, sometimes dangerously escalating response from Pyongyang.
North Korea also claimed that "bellicose remarks" from high-ranking USA officials, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, make war inevitable. Their exercise was simulated to target key North Korean facilities including nuclear and missile sites.
United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman arrived in Pyongyang for a four-day visit Tuesday, the first time a high-ranking United Nations official visited the country since 2012.