|B-1B Lancer bomber (Image: Wiki Commons)|
SEOUL, Sept. 25 (Yonhap) -- Conservative parties on Monday raised speculation that South Korea was bypassed by the United States in the latter's decision to fly a fleet of bombers and fighters near North Korea's east coast in the latest show of force against the wayward regime.
Although the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said the rare flight on Saturday night followed the allies' prior coordination, the parties demanded President Moon Jae-in explain the situation and craft measures to prevent what they term "Korea passing."
Escorted by F-15 fighters from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, U.S. B-1B Lancer bombers from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam carried out the mission, which Washington said underscored "the seriousness with which we take (the North's) reckless behavior."
The flight came after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un traded barbs. During a U.N. speech last week, Trump called Kim a "Rocket Man on a suicide mission," threatening to "totally destroy" the North. Kim, in turn, cast Trump as "mentally deranged."
"The U.S. independently carried out an unprecedented military operation to fly its bombers and fighters north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) for the first time since the Korean War (1950-53)," Chung Woo-taik, the floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, said during a party meeting. The NLL is the de facto inter-Korean sea border.
"Cheong Wa Dae and the government have to explain to the National Assembly and citizens why such a military operation just short of a war came with South Korea being excluded from it, and what kind of cooperation there was on that matter between Seoul and Washington," he added.
Critics here noted that the flight of U.S. warplanes might signal that Washington could stage unilateral military operations without consulting Seoul first in the case of a major North Korean provocation.
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