North Korean state media said Tuesday two U.S. B-1B Lancer strategic bombers conducted a nuclear bombing drill in South Korea, Monday.
The South Korean military confirmed the arrival of the U.S. planes hours after the North Korean report, adding to concerns over a possible preemptive strike by Washington against Pyongyang and the possible outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula.
According to Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the B-1B bombers performed a drill for a nuclear attack after departing from the U.S. military base in Guam.
The KCNA said the supersonic bombers, which are capable of reaching the peninsula from Guam in just two hours, secretly entered South Korean airspace over the East Sea and carried out the drill jointly with other U.S. strike assets.
"The U.S. made an impressive act of military provocation again, bringing its notorious B-1B bombers into South Korean airspace for a nuclear bombing drill less than a day after its offensive war exercise with the South ended," the KCNA said.
It was referring to the annual Foal Eagle exercise that ran from March to Monday.
"The bombers mastered procedures and methods required for joint operation with other U.S. strategic assets that were already in the region, such as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and a nuclear-powered submarine," the KCNA said.
The South Korean military speculated that Pyongyang meant the U.S. Navy's USS Carl Vinson and USS Michigan.
The USS Carl Vinson, a supercarrier, arrived in waters off the peninsula with its strike group, Saturday, and has been operating in the East Sea since then, according to military sources.
They said the USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine, arrived in Busan on April 25 but has since left.
In a show of force against North Korea, two B1-B bombers reached South Korean airspace over the East Sea around noon Monday after leaving Anderson Air Base in Guam, the South Korean military said.
They trained there for about two to three hours, joining drills involving several air fighters, such as South Korea's F-15Ks, as well as the USS Carl Vinson.
The B-1B bombers then moved to a South Korean military training site in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province, for a separate drill aimed at improving precision strike capability on North Korea.