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8 Dec 2017

North Korea says war is near as the US doubles down with back-to-back bomber runs

The US doubled down on provocative bomber flights near the border with North Korea, at the same time as Pyongyang asked when, not if war will break out.

On Wednesday, a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber flew from Guam to carry out simulated bomb runs against North Korean targets at a test range in South Korea.

And on Thursday, two B-1s joined Vigilant Ace, a massive aerial drill involving 230 aircraft, 12,000 personnel, and the US's top stealth jets.

Usually, the US conducts B-1 flights in response to North Korean provocations like missile tests. Usually, North Korea responds with its typically vitriolic propaganda.

For example, after a B-1 flew across North Korea's maritime border in response to ICBM testing in September, North Korea threatened to shoot down subsequent flights.

But usually, the B-1 flights happen on a nearly one-for-one basis. The back-to-back flights, the inclusion of stealth aircraft, and the massive scope in the drill all point to a marked escalation in tensions just a week after North Korea conducted a surprise test a missile experts say could nuke any US city.

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