US military flies four fighter jets and two bombers in a show of force as Russia and China began naval exercises ahead of a UN General Assembly meeting on Tuesday where North Korea's nuclear threat is likely to loom large.

They were the first flights since the North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 and staged an intermediate-range missile test over Japan last Friday.
They were the first flights since the North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 and staged an intermediate-range missile test over Japan last Friday. (Reuters)

The United States military staged bombing drills with South Korea over the Korean peninsula, and Russia and China began naval exercises near North Korea ahead of a UN General Assembly meeting on Tuesday where Pyongyang's nuclear threat is likely to loom large.

The flurry of military drills came after Pyongyang fired another mid-range ballistic missile over Japan on Friday and the reclusive North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 in defiance of United Nations sanctions and other international pressure.

A pair of US B-1B bombers and four F-35 jets flew from Guam and Japan and joined four South Korean F-15K fighters in the latest drill, South Korea's defence ministry said.

The joint drills were being conducted "two to three times a month these days," Defence Minister Song Young-moo told a parliamentary hearing on Monday.

Military might

In Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency said China and Russia began naval drills off the Russian far eastern port of Vladivostok, not far from the Russia-North Korea border.

Those drills were being conducted between Peter the Great Bay, near Vladivostok, and the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, to the north of Japan, it said.

The drills are the second part of China-Russian naval exercises this year; the first part was staged in the Baltic in July. The Xinhua report did not directly link the drills to current tensions over North Korea.

China and Russia have repeatedly called for a peaceful solution and talks to resolve the issue.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that if the North should pose a serious threat to the United States or its allies, North Korea will be destroyed.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that if the North should pose a serious threat to the United States or its allies, North Korea will be destroyed. (AFP)

Looking for options

On Sunday, however, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the UN Security Council had run out of options on containing North Korea's nuclear programme and the United States might have to turn the matter over to the Pentagon.

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the most pressing task at present was for all parties to enforce the latest UN resolutions on North Korea fully rather than "deliberately complicating the issue."

Military threats from various parties have not promoted a resolution to the issue, he said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an editorial published in the New York Times on Sunday the international community must remain united and enforce sanctions against North Korea after its repeated launch of ballistic missiles.

Such tests were in violation of Security Council resolutions and showed that North Korea could now target the United States or Europe, he wrote.

Abe also said diplomacy and dialogue would not work with North Korea and concerted pressure by the entire international community was essential to tackle the threats posed by the north and its leader, Kim Jong-un.

North Korea responds

The more sanctions the US and its allies impose on North Korea, the faster it will move to complete its nuclear plans, the reclusive nation's official KCNA news agency said on Monday, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

The latest sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council represent "the most vicious, unethical and inhumane act of hostility to physically exterminate the people of the DPRK, let alone its system and government," the spokesman said on Monday, using the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The UN Security Council unanimously passed a US-drafted resolution a week ago mandating tougher new sanctions against Pyongyang that included banning textile imports and capping crude and petrol supply. 

Source: Reuters