The United States sent nuclear-capable bombers to the Korean peninsula on Friday in its latest show of force against North Korea, days after the country staged massive anti-American rallies in its capital.

The B-52 long-range bombers took part in joint aerial exercises with other US and South Korean fighters over the peninsula, the South Korean Defense Ministry said in a statement. The flyby of the bombers is the latest in a series of temporary deployments of US strategic assets to South Korea in response to pressure from North Korea to expand its nuclear arsenal.

Two weeks ago, the United States deployed in South Korean waters for the first time in six years a nuclear-powered submarine capable of carrying about 150 Tomahawk missiles. The arrival of the USS Michigan came a day after North Korea resumed missile tests in protest of earlier US and South Korean drills it viewed as an invasion rehearsal.

The South Korean Defense Ministry claimed that the deployment of the B-52 bombers increased the visibility of US strategic assets on the peninsula. He said the allies have been showing their strong determination to strengthen combined defense postures and will continue joint exercises with US strategic bombers.

On Sunday, more than 120,000 North Koreans took part in mass rallies in Pyongyang to mark the 73rd anniversary of the start of the Korean War. During the rallies, officials and residents made speeches pledging “ruthless revenge” against the United States for the war and accusing the United States of planning an invasion of North Korea.

The Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula in a technical state of war. The United States maintains some 28,000 troops in South Korea as a deterrent against possible North Korean aggression.

Since launching two short-range ballistic missiles on June 15, North Korea has not conducted any further public weapons tests. But the deployment of US bombers could prompt him to relaunch weapons in protest.

Increasing the “regular visibility of US strategic assets” on the Korean peninsula was part of the agreements reached between US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol during their summit in Washington in April. Biden then declared that any North Korean nuclear attack against the US or its allies “would mean the end of any regime” that carried out such action.

Since early 2022, North Korea has conducted more than 100 missile tests in an attempt to expand its arsenal of nuclear-capable missiles aimed at the US mainland and South Korea. The Allies have responded by expanding their military maneuvers.

In late May, North Korea launched a rocket carrying its first spy satellite, which failed to plunge into the sea shortly after liftoff. North Korea has since repeated that it will attempt a second launch, saying it is crucial to build a space-based surveillance system to deal with what it calls US hostility.

Associated Press