The bomber flights, and the unusual public announcement of them by the U.S. military, appeared designed to send a message of Washington’s resolve to North Korea amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.
In recent weeks, North Korea has said it canceled an armistice agreement with the United States that ended the 1950-53 Korean War and has cut all communications hotlines with U.S. forces, the United Nations and South Korea.
North Korea has threatened South Korea with war and the mainland United States with a pre-emptive nuclear strike, although it is far from clear it has the ability to carry out the latter threat.
“The North Koreans have to understand that what they’re doing is very dangerous,” U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon. “We must make clear that these provocations by the North are taken by us very seriously and we’ll respond to that.”
The U.S. military said that its B-2 bombers had flown more than 6,500 miles to stage a trial bombing raid from their bases in Missouri as part of Foal Eagle war drills being held with South Korea.