US flies B-1 bomber 'farthest north' of DMZ in show of force against North Korea

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, prepares to take off from Andersen AFB, Guam, Sept. 23, 2017. This mission was flown as part of the continuing demonstration of the ironclad U.S. commitment to the defense of its homeland and in support of its partners and allies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Joshua Smoot)

The United States flew a B-1B strategic bomber off North Korea's coast on Saturday in a mission that put a U.S. military aircraft in historically close proximity to North Korea.

In a press release, Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said the mission was "the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century, underscoring the seriousness with which we take [North Korea's] reckless behavior."

The mission comes in the midst of an increasingly heated war of words between North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and President Donald Trump.

On Friday, Kim Jong-Un insulting President Trump as a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard" and issued a troubling warning that North Korea might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

Trump later responded to the threat on Twitter calling Kim Jong-Un a "madman" who "will be tested like never before!"

Earlier in the week during a speech at the United Nations, Trump called Kim "Rocket Man" saying the leader is "one a suicide mission." The president further warned that Pyongyang's continued provocations put the United States in a position where "we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea."

North Korea's Foreign Minister, addressing the United Nations on Saturday, shot back at the U.S. president around the same time the bomber mission was underway. Ri Yong Ho stated that Trump's insults are "making our rocket's visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more."

"None other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission," the minister told the General Assembly.

The latest U.S. bomber mission, alongside Japanese allies, was intended to demonstrate that the United States "has many military options to defeat any threat," the Pentagon stated. "We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies."

Top officials in the Trump administration have stressed in recent days that there are viable military options in North Korea and members of the president's national security team are discussing them in light of North Korea's nuclear provocations.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters at the United Nations on Thursday that "there are a lot of military options that can be done" if North Korea does anything "irresponsible or reckless."

At a Monday press briefing, Defense Secretary James Mattis affirmed that "there are" military options the United States could employ against North Korea without jeopardizing Seoul, just 35 miles from the DMZ, but he would not discuss details.

During this month, North Korea has openly disregarded the international community with a September 3 nuclear weapons test, and a medium-range ballistic missile test on September 15 that arced over Japan.

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