China urges calm as N.Korea rattles sabres

Image Satellite Image of Kilju North Korea

Image Satellite Image of Kilju North Korea

Two US B-1B heavy bombers joined large-scale combat drills over South Korea on Thursday amid warnings from North Korea that the exercises and US threats have made the outbreak of war "an established fact".

On Thursday, North Korea asked a startling question: "When will the war break out?"

The Vigilant Ace exercise, which was scheduled before the missile launch, involves 230 aircraft and about 12,000 service members from the US and South Korea.

South Korea has deployed 90 fighter jets, including its F-15 and FA-50 fighters The U.S. also flew two B-1B supersonic bombers over Korea for two consecutive days on Wednesday and Thursday, carrying out bombing drills over the Yellow Sea near North Korea and China.

White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said at the weekend that the possibility of war with North Korea was "increasing every day".

"We keep stressing that the current situation on the Korean Peninsula is tense and sensitive", foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told media during a regular briefing. "When we overcome this ongoing crisis, I am sure it will turn into an opportunity to dramatically improve the South-North relations", he added.

The US and South Korean militaries are now participating in an air-power exercise on the Korean Peninsula involving a record number of stealth jets and an increased pace of simulated bomb runs.

"We hope all relevant parties can maintain calm and restraint and take steps to alleviate tensions and not provoke each other", he said.

But even though both sides make overtures toward war, it's far from a sure thing.

But North Korea has a problem there.

Russian Federation and China both responded by pushing the USA and North Korea away from war. The foreign minister referenced a comment by the United States envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, in which she said that North Korea would be "utterly destroyed in case of war", calling it a "bloodthirsty tirade". Their exercise was simulated to target key North Korean facilities including nuclear and missile sites.

The rising tensions coincide with a rare visit to North Korea by United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman, the highest-level UN official to visit North Korea since 2012.

"Through the drill, the South Korean and U.S. air forces displayed the allies' strong intent and ability to punish North Korea when threatened by nuclear weapons and missiles", the South Korean military said in a statement. Feltman held talks with deputy foreign minister Pak Myong Gun on Wednesday.