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USS Michigan in Busan, South Korea, April 24
USS Michigan in Busan, South Korea, April 24

US-North Korea Face-Off Intensifies

A US submarine docked in South Korea, as North Korea conducted a big live-fire exercise

US-North Korea Face-Off Intensifies

North Korea conducted a big live-fire exercise on Tuesday to mark the foundation of its military, media reported, as a US submarine docked in South Korea in a show of force amid growing concern over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
The port call by the USS Michigan came as a US aircraft carrier strike group steamed toward Korean waters and as the top envoys for North Korea policy from South Korea, Japan and the United States met in Tokyo, Reuters reported.
Fears have risen in recent weeks that North Korea could conduct another nuclear test or long-range missile launch in defiance of UN sanctions, perhaps on the Tuesday anniversary of the founding of its military.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that the North appeared to have deployed a large number of long-range artillery units in the region of Wonsan on its east coast on Tuesday, for a live-fire drill.
The report, citing an unidentified South Korean government source, said the exercise was possibly supervised by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it could not immediately confirm the report.
“Our military is closely monitoring the North Korean military’s movement in Wonsan areas and we are firmly maintaining readiness,” South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

  North Korea Defiant
North Korea’s state media was defiant in a commentary marking the 85th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People’s Army, saying its military was prepared “to bring to closure the history of US scheming and nuclear blackmail”.
“There is no limit to the strike power of the People’s Army armed with our style of cutting-edge military equipment, including various precision and miniaturized nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles,” the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a front-page editorial.
North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats are perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting US President Donald Trump.
Trump has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile and has said all options are on the table, including a military strike.
He sent the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group for exercises in waters off the Korean Peninsula as a warning to North Korea and a show of solidarity with US allies.
Matching the flurry of diplomatic and military activity in Asia, the State Department in Washington said on Monday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would chair a special ministerial meeting of the UN Security Council on North Korea on Friday.
Tillerson, along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford, would also hold a rare briefing for the entire US Senate on North Korea on Wednesday, Senate aides said.
A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said those meetings called by US officials clearly reflected the US pressure that could “ignite a full-out war” on the Korean Peninsula.
“The reality of today again proves the decision to strengthen nuclear power in quality and quantity under the banner of pursuing economic development and nuclear power was the correct one,” the unidentified spokesman said in a statement issued by the North’s state media.
On Monday, Trump called for tougher UN sanctions on the North, saying it was a global threat and “a problem that we have to finally solve”.
“The status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable,” Trump told a meeting with the 15 UN Security Council ambassadors, including China and Russia, at the White House.
“The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”
In a phone conversation with Trump on Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to exercise restraint.
As the carrier group drills continued, the USS Michigan arrived in the South Korean port of Busan on Tuesday, the US Navy said. The nuclear-powered submarine is built to carry and launch ballistic missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

 

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