United States and South Korea begin massive air exercises

South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo holds a meeting with top military commanders at the defense ministry building in Seoul on Dec. 8 2017 in this

Moscow also believes it is Washington's saber-rattling and regular military drills in the region that are "provoking Pyongyang into taking some rash action" after months of restraint, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following the country's latest ballistic missile test. Threats from various U.S. officials are serving the same objective, Lavrov added.

One B-1B strategic bomber was deployed on the Korean peninsula to carry out the U.S Pacific Command's "Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP) mission", U.S. Air Force confirmed to NK News, adding that the drill was not part of Vigilant Ace 18.

The ongoing five-day drills involve more than 200 aircraft, including six U.S. F-22 and 18 F-35 stealth fighters.

"The threat here on the peninsula is very real, and countering that threat needs to be in the forefront of our minds", Betts said.

North Korea has vehemently criticized the drills since the weekend, saying the exercise "precipitates" the United States' and South Korea's "self-destruction". "We will ensure we have no regrets if we find ourselves executing contingency operations". Some of the exercises reportedly involved the simulation wartime scenarios that include neutralizing North Korean nuclear and missile targets. "If north Korea is not going to accept it, then the U.S.is not going to accept it". Dave Benham, told the military news outlet.

"I don't think you or anybody else is willing to bet the farm, or a USA city on the decision-making-rational decision-making of Kim Jong Un", McMaster said.

The South Korean defense ministry building is shown in this file
The South Korean defense ministry building is shown in this file

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Myong Guk met Feltman on Wednesday in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, and discussed bilateral cooperation and other issues of mutual interest, KCNA said. The exercise provides realistic air combat training for the United States and Republic of Korea, testing and refining the readiness and interoperability of US-ROK forces to deter aggression and provide a rapid response to attack.

"And as you know, this is a regime that's never met a weapon that it hasn't proliferated".

"North Korea would interpret a move to remove families as a sign of US preparation for offensive military action", he said.

Officials in Pyongyang have described the exercises as the US president "begging for a nuclear war".

The bombers will take part in the drills at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula and as United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman makes a rare visit to North Korea.

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