The U.S. and North Korea are on the brink of nuclear war, as Washington sends two supersonic bombers to fly over the Korean Peninsula despite Pyongyang’s warning of nuclear war.

North Korea THAAD
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Tensions in the region are rising with the THAAD missile system being reportedly “operational” and ready for war. Washington deployed the system in South Korea to counter any potential missile attack from North Korea. As the U.S. flies bombers over the volatile Korean Peninsula, North Korea explodes with outrage and slams what it describes as “U.S. military provocations” that put them on the brink of nuclear war.

America’s decision to fly two supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers over the Korean peninsula for a training drill on Monday comes despite North Korea’s warning against such “provocative” actions in the region which is full of its enemies. The U.S. sent the two bombers to carry out a joint drill with South Korea’s and Japan’s air forces; this is the second time in the past seven days that U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers have flown over the volatile area.

“Era of strategic patience is over”

Tensions are rising, with the world’s attention being focused on North Korea. World leaders are up in arms over concerns that North Korea is preparing for a nuclear weapons test, with the Trump administration declaring in April that the “era of strategic patience” with North Korea is “over.” After North Korea’s failed missile launch on Saturday, the U.S. President declared that “we cannot allow” North leader Kim Jong-Un to develop better missiles, including those that could reach the U.S. mainland. The Trump administration could now be considering military action against Pyongyang to halt its nuclear program.

The Telegraph on Tuesday cited officials familiar with the launch of the THAAD missile system in South Korea, saying that the missile system, which has drawn criticism from not only North Korea, but also China and Russia, is now operational and has an “early capability” to counter attacks from North Korea. The launch of the THAAD missile system comes months ahead of the scheduled launch at the end of this year, which could be due to growing worries about the possibility of war between the U.S. and North Korea in recent weeks.

Russia’s air force “on high alert” after North Korea’s missile launch directed at Moscow

The failure of North Korea’s missile test last Saturday – its third launch in April alone – sent shockwaves across the world, with South Korean reports indicating that the failed missile was headed to Russia, prompting Moscow’s air force to be on high alert.

After the failed missile test, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said it would speed up its nuclear program “at the maximum pace.” In response to the failed test and the ever-increasing frequency of missile tests by Pyongyang, the U.S. decided to carry out joint drills with South Korea and Japan’s air forces in the Korean Peninsula, prompting North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency to warn that Washington’s “military provocations” are putting them on the brink of nuclear war.

This was not the first time the U.S. has sent its bombers to the Korean Peninsula in recent years. In January 2016 after North Korea carried out its fourth nuclear test, the U.S. directed its Guam-based B-52 bomber to make the flight over the peninsula.

In recent months, the U.S. has bolstered measures to protect its allies from the nuclear threat emanating from North Korea. Apart from deploying the THAAD missile system, which is said to be “operational” this week, Washington also deployed an aircraft carrier-led strike group to the Korean Peninsula.

Is military action against North Korea on Trump’s mind?

Tensions have been escalating in recent weeks, with U.S. allies in the region expecting the Trump administration to respond to the growing North Korean threat militarily. But Trump himself is not willing to reveal his plans for North Korea – or at least not if those plans include the possibility of military action against Pyongyang. In a pre-taped interview broadcast on Face the Nation on Sunday, the U.S. President called the ongoing conflict with North Korea “a chess game” and stressed that he would not discuss his future plans.

He explained, “I just don’t want people to know what my thinking is.”

Last month, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence declared that the “era of strategic patience” with North Korea is “over,” saying that the defiance of Kim Jong-Un’s regime and North Korea’s unwillingness to give up nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles raise serious concerns. In March, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that a military response to North Korea would be “on the table” if Pyongyang threatened U.S. forces or its allies in the region.

Are China and Russia on board with U.S. military plans against North Korea?

The Trump administration – and Trump himself – seem to have conflicting opinions about what to do with the North Korea problem. Despite the rising tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, Trump made a very unexpected suggestion on Monday – days after the latest missile test by North Korea – saying that he would be “honored” to meet with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un.

Trump told Bloomberg News, “If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it. Under the right circumstances I would meet with him.”

The U.S. President did not elaborate on what those “right circumstances” are.

No sitting U.S. president has met with a North Korean leader since Kim’s grandfather Kim Il-sung. Trump took to Twitter last month to reveal that China, which he seemingly painted as the biggest enemy of the U.S. during his 2016 election campaign, was working with his administration on “the North Korea problem.”

China – like Russia – has been a vocal critic of U.S. plans to deploy the THAAD anti-ballistic missile system to South Korea, fearing that Washington could use it not only against North Korea but also against Beijing and Moscow. But could China and Russia, which was reportedly targeted by Pyongyang in its most recent missile launch, actually be joining forces with the U.S. to solve “the North Korea problem”?