The US military flew two strategic bombers over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force yesterday as Donald Trump met defence chiefs to discuss how to respond to North Korea following the reported hacking of wartime operational plans. It involved a pair of B-1B Lancers staging a simulated air-to-ground missile firing with two South Korean F-15K jets over the Sea of Japan which then flew across the southern portion of the Korean peninsula.
Seoul and Washington have been on alert over a possible North Korean long-range missile test in line with this week's anniversary of the founding of the reclusive state's ruling party.
According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency this is not the first time the communist regime to the north has launched a tirade of cyber attacks on the country, with hacks targeting government websites and facilities being commonplace in recent years.
There are also serious concerns about North Korea's cyberwarfare capabilities, but the USA has been carrying out operations of its own to counter North Korean cyber operations in Northeast Asia and elsewhere.
"If I had access to the enemy's plans, not only would I know what forces were going to be arrayed against me, I would know where they will be, what weapons they will have, where the command and control nodes will be established - all critical war-fighting information". Defense officials refused to comment when reached by other media.
China, North Korea's closest ally, has suggested that Pyongyang freeze its nuclear missile development while the USA stop conducting military exercises with the South that raise fears in North Korea.
Private electric companies in the U.S. were targeted by suspected North Korean hackers last month.
Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have intensified in recent months as the Trump administration has struggled to rein in Kim Jong-un's expanding nuclear and ballistic weapons programme.
President Trump hosted a discussion on options to respond to any North Korean aggression, or, if necessary, to prevent Pyongyang from threatening the U.S. and its allies with nuclear weapons, the White House said in a statement.
"We strongly urge North Korea and the U.S. to stop their bellicose posturing and seriously think about a peaceful solution", it said.
While US Secretary of Defense James Mattis reiterated this week that diplomacy along with worldwide economic sanctions would remain the leading element of US strategy towards blunting North Korea, military options were being prepared.