Pyongyang warmed up Thursday for Trump’s 12-day tour of Asia by accusing the U.S. of preparing to launch a “surprise nuclear strike” against the regime.
The North Koreans were vexed by a slightly theatrical flight of two U.S. B-1 Lancers over the Peninsula early Friday morning.
The U.S. Air Force said the bombers were part in a planned “bilateral integration” exercise, and were accompanied by fighter jets from South Korea and Japan, which overflew Seoul.
“The gangster-like U.S. imperialists are ceaselessly resorting to their frantic nuclear threat and blackmail to stifle North Korea with nukes at any cost,” a statement from state-run KCNA news agency blustered.
Pyongyang said the bombers, which took off from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, flew “into South Korea again to stage a surprise nuclear strike drill targeting North Korea.”
Trump, who starts his Asia tour Friday, is expected to tell the region’s leaders the world is “running out of time” to deal with the growing nuclear crisis.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters Thursday Trump would “remind friend and foe alike that the United States stands ready to defend itself and our allies using the full range of our capabilities.”
However, Kim Jong un is unlikely to let Trump monopolize the histrionics; South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers Thursday Pyongyang is planning a new missile test that could coincide with the president’s visit.
Trump is scheduled to visit China, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and South Korea, though initial plans to visit the DMZ were shelved.