The U.S. continued its ramped-up demonstrations of military might aimed at North Korea this weekend, after sending stealth jets to South Korea on Sunday.
The deployment of two F-22 Raptors from Japan to South Korea comes amid a meeting of the Supreme People's Assembly in North Korea, where Kim Jong Un restated his determination to pursue a nuclear weapons program.
North Korea claims it is currently in a state of war with South Korea and its allies. Media reports indicate troops from the reclusive communist country may be mobilizing at missile sites.
Sending the F-22s had been "planned for some time and is part of the air component of the Foal Eagle exercise," Pentagon spokesman George Little said Monday, according to Fox News. These joint exercises with South Korea began at the end of February. The two Raptors were deployed to South Korea's Osan Air Base.
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs chairman, says these demonstrations, such as the B-2 flyby March 28, are designed to reassure regional allies such as South Korea and Japan, not to escalate the monthslong war rhetoric.
"The reaction from the B-2 that we're most concerned about is not necessarily the reaction it might elicit from North Korea, but rather from our Japanese and South Korean allies," he told reporters Thursday. "Those exercises are mostly to assure our allies that they can count on us to be prepared and to help them deter conflict."
Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel continued their calls for North Korea to cease provocative rhetoric and pursuit of its enhanced weapons program.
"The North Koreans have to understand that what they're doing is very dangerous," Hagel said. "They have some options. They can take another approach to a better future, but what they're doing now is not the way to do that."
But North Korea views the encroaching military presence as a threat, according to official media.
"The U.S. forces in south Korea have been reinforced by troops equal to one division in one to two years. The U.S. is mulling steadily introducing ultra-modern war hardware into it," a regime spokesman said Sunday, according to the state news service. "This is a very dangerous move to ignite a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula at any cost."
"The reinforcement of the U.S. forces in south Korea is part of such moves for a war against [North Korea]," it added.
North Korea has historically pushed the boundaries of limits on its nuclear and weapons capabilities to gain a foothold on receiving aid from the West. Officials at the Central Committee meeting on Sunday said this time will be different, according to a report from the party's official newspaper.
"The nuclear weapons of Songun Korea are not goods for getting U.S. dollars and they are neither a political bargaining chip nor a thing for economic dealings to be presented to the place of dialogue or be put on the table of negotiations aimed at forcing the DPRK to disarm itself," according to a report from the Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
"The DPRK's nuclear armed forces represent the nation's life which can never be abandoned as long as the imperialists and nuclear threats exist on earth. They are a treasure of a reunified country which can never be traded with billions of dollars," it adds.
A semi-official South Korean news agency reported that "sharply increased movements of vehicles and soldiers have been detected recently at North Korea's mid and long-range missile sites," according to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
Kim Jong Un had previously stated it is time to "settle scores" with the U.S., Chosun reports.