US bombers have flown close to North Korea's east coast to demonstrate the military options available to defeat any threat, the Pentagon says.
It said the flight was the farthest north of the demilitarised zone between the Koreas that any US fighter jet or bomber has flown in the 21st Century.
The patrols came after experts said a small earthquake near North Korea's nuclear test site last night was probably not man-made, easing fears the North had exploded another nuclear bomb, just weeks after its last one.
In a statement, the Pentagon said the flight underscored "the seriousness" with which the US takes North Korea's "reckless" behaviour.
"This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat."
However, North Korea says a rocket attack on the United States is now inevitable.
The country's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho made the threat in a speech to the United Nations where he said his country was only a few steps away from completing its state nuclear force.
He said it was a forlorn hope to think that North Korea would change its stance on developing a nuclear arsenal due to harsher sanctions being imposed by the world body.
His comments came within hours of the US bombers flying in international airspace over waters east of North Korea.
Last week, US President Donald Trump told the UN that he would "totally destroy" North Korea if the US was forced to defend itself or its allies.
Meanwhile, China has moved to limit North Korea's oil supply and will stop buying textiles from the politically isolated nation.
China is North Korea's most important trading partner, and one of its only sources of hard currency.
The ban on textiles trade will hurt Pyongyang's income, while China's oil exports are the country's main source of petroleum products.
- BBC/ Reuters