United States bombers conduct drills off both coasts of Korean Peninsula

Friday, 13 Oct, 2017

Two supersonic USA bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula in their first nighttime training mission with South Korean forces, a clear warning to North Korea as tensions spike over its nuclear weapons program.

Rhee Cheol-Hee, a lawmaker for the ruling Democratic party, said the hackers had broken into the South's military network last September and gained access to 235 gigabytes of sensitive data, the Chosun Ilbo daily reported.

Ri's comments are likely to continue to fuel a mounting war of words between Trump and Kim.

The show of force happened Tuesday as President Donald Trump met with his national security team to discuss options for dealing with the growing threat from the North.

Trump slammed more than two decades of USA policy toward North Korea on Twitter on Monday, saying past action to quell the crisis "didn't work".

Rhee said the hackers stole 235 gigabytes of data, almost 80 percent of which hasn't been identified yet.

The Air Force said Tuesday's overflight demonstrated how USA military forces "are always ready to defend the American homeland and how the US stands resolutely with Japan and [South Korea] to honor their unshakeable alliance commitments to safeguard security and stability".

A ministry spokesman declined to confirm the report, citing intelligence matters.

One defector from North Korea has said that the state's hacking capabilities are "beyond imagination".

The secretive state has been suspected of carrying out cyber attacks on South Korean electric utilities as well as on other government and financial institutions.

According to United States intelligence officials, North Korean hackers were responsible for a 2014 attack on Sony Pictures.

The EU also said a total number of 63 individuals and 53 entities were sanctioned under restrictive measures as listed by the United Nations, while 38 individuals and four entities have been designated by the bloc autonomously. The Australian newspaper reported that the hacker was based in China but Tehan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that "we don't know and we can not confirm exactly who the actor was".

The air-to-ground missile maneuvers near the South Korean coast were intentionally scheduled for North Korea's communist party's anniversary.

"Thus far, the suspected North Korean actions are consistent with a desire to demonstrate a deterrent capability rather than a prelude to an unprovoked first-strike in cyberspace; however, North Korea linked actors are bold, have launched multiple cyber attacks created to demonstrate national strength and resolve, and have little concern for potential discovery and attribution of their operations", FireEye researchers said in a blog.

China, North Korea's closest ally, has suggested that Pyongyang freeze its nuclear missile development while the United States stop conducting military exercises with the South that raise fears in North Korea.

-South Korean war plans, including parts of Operational Plan 5015, which includes procedures for a decapitation strike on the North's leadership if a crisis breaks out or appears imminent. "The global community won't accept North Korea as a nuclear power".