North Korea marks anniversary with massive artillery drill

Laura Christensen
May 6, 2017

North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threat is perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting U.S. President Donald Trump.

The port call by the USS Michigan came as a USA aircraft carrier strike group steams for Korean waters and as the top nuclear envoys from South Korea, Japan and the United States met in Tokyo to discuss the North's refusal to give up its nuclear program.

The South's trumpeting of progress on setting up the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, comes as high-powered USA military assets converge on the Korean Peninsula and as a combative North Korea signals possible nuclear and missile testing.

Flurry of diplomacy under way as North Korea reportedly marks military anniversary with large-scale artillery drill.

In a phone conversation with Trump on Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to exercise restraint.

Washington has sent the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the Korean peninsula, where it is expected to arrive - after a derision-provoking delay - later this week.

United States defence leaders and other top officials are to give a classified briefing on North Korea to all senators in an unusual meeting at the White House later Wednesday.

North Korea routinely accuses the United States of readying for an invasion, and threatens pre-emptive strikes to stop it.

Trump told ambassadors from U.N. Security Council member countries that they must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korea.

"The situation prevailing on the Korean peninsula is so tense that a nuclear war may break out due to the frantic war drills of the US imperialists and their vassal forces for aggression", he told the gathering.

As well as his military show of force, Trump has also sought to pressure China to do more to rein in its nuclear-armed neighbor.

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Angered by the approach of the carrier group, which could arrive within days, North Korea said the deployment of the USS Carl Vinson was "an extremely risky act by those who plan a nuclear war to invade".

Last year, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests, which would have improved its knowledge in making nuclear weapons small enough to fit on long-range missiles. Speculation has grown that such a test, or another long-range missile launch, could coincide with the 85th anniversary of the foundation of the North's Korean People's Army on Tuesday.

Kim Sang Duk, or Tony Kim, was arrested Saturday at Pyongyang's airport as he was about to leave the country after a teaching stint at a university founded by evangelical Christians.

It is also believed to be preparing a sixth nuclear weapons test and recently detained a US citizen, the third held in the country.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced it would be sending the USS Vinson, an aircraft carrier, to the Korean Peninsula, after U.S. officials said they anticipated a fresh round of nuclear tests and missile launches.

Under Kim's leadership, North Korea has been aggressively pursuing a decades-long goal of putting a nuclear warhead on an ICBM capable of reaching the US mainland.

In March, North Korean state media reported that the country successfully conducted a ground test of a new high-thrust rocket engine, which it said was a breakthrough for its space program and efforts to create "Korean-style strategic weapons". This indicated that North Korea was developing technologies to "cold-launch" ICBMs, ejecting them from the launch tubes before they ignite in midair, which would prevent its limited number of ICBM-capable launcher trucks from being damaged and also allow the missiles to be fired from silos. Kim was then quoted as saying "the whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries".

She praised China's increased pressure on North Korea.

Yun told reporters after a meeting in Tokyo that all diplomatic, military and economic actions on North Korea will be coordinated among the allies.

"As (North Korea has) one of the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons, again artillery can be used for that".

Other reports by My Hot News

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