"The frenzied US scheme of threats and blackmail, which aims to crush our republic with nuclear [weapons], continues in November as it did in October," the Korea Central News Agency reported November 3, announcing the exercise.
The US Air Force confirmed the flyby but insisted the practice bombing mission was part of routine operations and was not in response to any particular event. "The bilateral continuous bomber presence mission was planned in advance," a USAF statement issued Thursday reads, "and was not in response to any current event." More details were offered later by Air Force spokeswoman Captain Victoria Hight, who said the bombers had flown over South Korea's Pilsung Range, an air force training range used by the US and South Korea.
The B-1B bombers are, it should be noted, not armed with nuclear weapons and cannot be armed with nuclear weapons. "Every year, 10 Russian officials travel to either the Ellsworth or Dyess global strike air bases in the United States to review the fastest bomber in the Air Force's arsenal: the B-1B Lancer," Military.com reported in July. This is done to ensure compliance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, "which specifies the once-nuclear bomber remains disarmed of nukes."
On October 21, a pair of Lancers conducted a flyover during the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition.
"The US may make frantic last-minute efforts to block our powerful advances by shoving nuclear strategic assets at us, but our army and people are not ones to be startled," KCNA said in response to the latest drill.
While the Lancer is not nuclear-armed, in early October the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine the USS Michigan was "shoved" into Pyongyang's backyard, and that vessel is equipped with nuclear weapons.
The US has continued to call for de-nuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, but Pyongyang has scoffed at the suggestion. It has also continued military exercises that Pyongyang considers provocative on its own and with allies Japan and South Korea.
"We encourage North Korea and the United States to carry out engagement and dialogue," Chinese Foreign Minister Hua Chunying said Wednesday.