SEOUL, March 28 The United States flew two
Stealth bomber practice runs over South Korea on Thursday, in a
second show of force to North Korea after a B52 bomber made a
similar run earlier this week amid rising tensions on the Korean
The flights came after North Korea said it would attack
American bases in the Pacific following a U.S.-led drive to
impose sanctions on North Korea for its third nuclear weapons
The North has also threatened U.S. "puppet" South Korea with
war and the U.S. mainland with nuclear attack.
"This mission by two B-2 Spirit bombers assigned to 509th
Bomb Wing...demonstrates the United States' ability to conduct
long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will," the United
States Forces in Korea said in a statement.
North Korea has put its armed forces on readiness to fight
what is says are "hostile" war drills by the United States and
South Korea. The U.S. says the annual drills are defensive.
Pyongyang has also cancelled an armistice agreement with the
United States that ended the 1950-53 Korean War and cut all
communications hotlines with U.S. forces, the United Nations and
The U.S. military said that its bombers had flown more than
6,500 miles to stage a trial bombing raid from their bases in
Missouri as part of Foal Eagle war drills being held with South
The U.S. military announced on March 15 it was bolstering
missile defences in response to threats from the North,
including a threat to conduct a preemptive nuclear strike
against the United States.
Despite the shrill words, few believe North Korea, formally
known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, will risk
starting a full-out war.
North and South Korea are still technically at war anyway
after their 1950-53 civil conflict ended with the armistice, not
North Korea conducted a third nuclear weapons test in
February in breach of U.N. sanctions and despite warnings from
China, its one major diplomatic ally.
Despite the tide of hostile rhetoric from Pyongyang, it has
kept a joint economic zone with the South open as it generates
$2 billion a year in trade from the venture, money the
impoverished state can ill-afford to lose.
North Korea will celebrate the anniversary of the birth of
its founding father, Kim Il-sung, on April 15. The current ruler
is Kim Jong-un, his 30-year old grandson.
While the North has an armoury of Soviet-era Scud missiles
that can hit South Korea, its longer-range missiles remain
Independent assessments of its missile strike force suggest
that it may have the theoretical capacity to hit U.S. bases in
Japan and Guam, but the North has not tested these missiles.
North Korea shelled a South Korean island in 2010 and is
charged with the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in the
same year. Pyongyang denies it sank the ship.
(Reporting by David Chance; Editing by Nick Macfie)