The US military sent a nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bomber on a long-range mission to the Pacific over the weekend ahead of President Donald Trumps Asia tour that includes a visit to South Korea and Japan.
The US military Strategic Command said the mission took place on Sunday, a day after Pentagon chief Jim Mattis highlighted rival North Korea's "accelerating" atomic weapons programme during a visit to South Korea, the Japan Times reported.
"I cannot imagine a condition under which the US would accept North Korea as a nuclear power," Mattis said.
The long-range mission was conducted to "familiarise aircrew with airbases and operations in different geographic combatant commands, enabling them to maintain a high state of readiness and proficiency", the US military said in a statement.
The statement also referred to the B-2 mission as "a visible demonstration of commitment to our allies and enhancing regional security".
The weekend flight of the B-2, which can carry conventional as well as nuclear bombs, came just ahead of Trump's Asia tour from November 3 to 14. The US President will visit Japan between November 5 to 7 and will meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for talks that are expected to focus on the North Korean nuclear crisis.
Trump will also visit South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that the South Korean regime nodded to its intent to suggest offering maintenance support for US strategic military assets deployed in the country with the hope that "the US will expand its missions on the Korean peninsula without any concerns over issues of maintenance, fuel supplies and so forth".
Earlier in October, B-1B bombers were deployed from US territory of Guam during military exercises with the South Korean Air Force in the wake of rising tensions with the North Korean regime.
Reacting to the move, Pyongyang said it will shoot down any US bombers violating its air space.
North Korea also reportedly spent the weekend preparing for a war, conducting evacuation and black out drills across the country, NK News reported.
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