US flies powerful warplanes amid tensions with N. Korea


South Korea's presidential office spokesman Park Soo-hyun said on Sunday that Moon and Trump had in a Sunday telephone conversation strongly condemned the latest missile launch by North Korea and agreed to work with the global community to implement the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)'s latest resolution against Pyongyang. South Korea says the US military flew powerful bombers and stealth jets over the Korean Peninsula in joint drills with South Korean warplanes. Its nuclear test in September was its most powerful to date.

The US president has not ruled out a military option, which could leave millions of people in the South Korean capital - and 28,500 US soldiers stationed in the South - vulnerable to potential retaliatory attack.

He did confirm that he had discussed the option of putting tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea, an idea rejected by South Korea's President last week. He accused the North Korean regime of a ruthless effort to gain nuclear weapons.

On the contrary, Moon Jae-in promised a more accommodating stance on Pyongyang before being elected president in May 2017. Another U.S. ally, Japan, said Wednesday that pressure, not dialogue, was needed. Following in his predecessor's footsteps, the president said he "will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea", if forced to defend the USA and its allies, during his first speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. China in turn favors an worldwide response to the problem.

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Should North Korea make the attempt, "the response is going to be overwhelming", Hyten said.

China accounts for about 90 percent of North Korea's trade and sends largely free crude oil shipments to the North. Beijing has been increasingly frustrated with North Korea's nuclear drive, but it still doesn't want the North to collapse and cause a wave of refugees to cross the border into China and American troops to move into North Korea.

"We will not seek unification by absorption or artificial means, if North Korea makes a decision even now to stand on the right side of history, we are ready to assist North Korea together with the worldwide community", he said. "But actually, these kinds of actions didn't help solving the problem but further complicate the situation, which do no good to the resolution of the peninsular issue".

The UN Security Council last week imposed a fresh set of sanctions, though the United States toned down its original proposals to secure support from China and Russian Federation.