Days after Pyongyang's fifth and largest-ever nuclear test, two huge US strategic bombers flew over South Korea today in a show of force and solidarity with its ally against North while a US envoy called for a strong response from the United Nations (UN).
"Today's demonstration provides just one example of the full range of military capabilities in the deep resources of this strong alliance to provide and strengthen extended deterrence," general Vincent Brooks, US-South Korea Combined Forces Command was quoted as saying by AFP.
"North Korea's nuclear test is a dangerous escalation and poses an unacceptable threat," said the general, adding the US has an "unshakable commitment" to defend allies in the region.
The supersonic B-1B Lancers reached airspace over the US Osan Air Base at Pyeongtaek, 64 kilometres (40 miles) south of Seoul, at around 10:00 am (0100 GMT).
"Our intention is to secure the strongest possible (UN Security Council) resolution that includes new sanctions as quickly as possible," Sung Kim, the US envoy on North Korea, asserted while speaking in the South Korean capital.
US remains open to authentic, meaningful dialogue with Pyongyang on ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons, Kim was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Each aircraft, which had flown from the US Pacific Command`s Andersen Airforce base at Guam, was escorted by US and South Korean fighter jets.
It's pertinent to mention that Seoul in July had announced its plans to deploy THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), a sophisticated US missile defence system, to counter growing nuclear and missile threats from the North.
However, North Korea's major diplomatic ally, China, which believes the system`s radar could also be used to track its own defences, had objected strongly. The plan has also met resistance from residents of the southern county of Seongju, the planned site.
Kim today pointed out that the United States would work with China to close loopholes in existing resolutions, which were tightened with Beijing`s backing in March.
"China has been very clear that they understand the need for a new UN security council resolution in response to the latest North Korean nuclear test," Kim said.
China and Russia, however, which strongly oppose a recent decision by the United States and South Korea to deploy an advanced anti-missile system in the South to counter the North`s missile threat, have shown reluctance to back further sanctions.
Meanwhile, South Korea`s defence ministry spokesman Moon Sang-Gyun told journalists that Tuesday's overflight was "aimed at sending a clear warning to North Korea about its nuclear test, and containing further provocations".
Washington took similar actions after previous atomic tests.
In January, the US flew a B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber over Osan Air Base after North Korea`s fourth nuclear blast.
South Korea is home to around 28,500 US troops and numerous bases.
(WION with inputs from Reuters, AFP)