In a signal to Pyongyang to back off, the US Defense Department said on Tuesday that it is sending 24 B-1 and B-52 bombers to the island of Guam in the western Pacific as a deterrent to DPRK.
At the same time, the Pentagon was considering sending fighter jets to escort spy planes in the region after DPRK jets tailed a US reconnaissance plane over the weekend, in what the US described as "reckless actions."
US officials said the move was a prudent measure to "keep peace" on the tense Korean peninsula. "These movements are not aggressive in nature," said Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis. "Deploying these additional forces is a prudent measure to bolster our defensive posture and as a deterrent."
Davis refused to provide any details on the weapons being moved from the United States, but other defense officials told the press that two dozen swing-wing B-1 jets and heavy eight-engine B-52s were being moved immediately to Guam under orders signed by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
A White House spokesman said the US plans a formal protest of DPRK's "reckless actions" in sending MiG fighters close to a US RC-135S surveillance plane on Sunday, tailing it for 22 minutes.
At the White House, spokesman Ari Fleischer said President Bush would consult with allies to determine the best way to protest the incident. Fleischer said Bush believes the North Korean standoff can be solved through diplomacy.