SEOUL (Dispatches) -- The United States deployed a B-52 bomber for a joint drill with its ally South Korea on Monday, in a show of force against North Korea, South Korea’s defense ministry said.
B-52 bombers are capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
The air drill came ahead of combined large-scale exercises including amphibious landings starting later this month.
North Korea has traditionally called for those joint exercises to be called off, branding them as a prelude to invasion.
They have in the past drawn sharp reactions from Pyongyang including missile tests and nuclear threats, and North Korea’s foreign ministry on Sunday demanded an immediate halt to U.S. - South Korea combined military drills, saying they were raising tensions.
With denuclearization talks stalled, North Korea conducted a record number of missile launches last year. As South Korea has lifted anti-COVID measures, the allies are returning to large-scale drills.
On Sunday, North Korea called on the United Nations to demand an immediate halt to joint military drills by the United States and South Korea.
In a statement on state media, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Son Gyong said the drills and the rhetoric from the allies have pushed tensions to an “extremely dangerous level”.
He said the UN and the international community “will have to strongly urge the U.S. and South Korea to immediately halt their provocative remarks and joint military exercises”.
The statement comes after officials from Seoul and Washington announced on Friday more than 10 days of large-scale military exercises, including amphibious landings, from March 13 to 23.
Pyongyang sees the drills as a rehearsal for invasion.
On Saturday, it blamed Washington for what it called the collapse of international arms control systems and said its nuclear weapons were “the surest way” to ensure the balance of power in the region.
Seoul and Washington also conducted a combined air drill with a U.S. long-range bomber and South Korean fighter aircraft on Friday, the latest in their series of joint training in recent weeks.
The “irresponsible acts” of the allies will only take the regional situation “to a very critical and uncontrollable phase,” Kim warned.
It is regrettable that the UN has been consistently silent on the exercises, which have a “clear aggressive nature,” he added.
Last month Kim issued a statement, saying UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been “extremely unfair, unbalanced” on North Korea’s missile tests.