Published: Sun, April 30, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

Korea marks military anniversary with firing drill

Korea marks military anniversary with firing drill

North Korea marked a military anniversary with a massive conventional firing drill on Tuesday, as a United States guided-missile submarine docked in South Korea amid tensions over Pyongyang's weapons ambitions.

A South Korean navy spokesman said the sub was on a routine visit to rest the crew and load supplies and it would not take part in military drills.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited a government source as saying that the exercise was North Korea's "largest ever" and presumably overseen by leader Kim Jong Un.

He said the defences of Hawaii were sufficient for now but could one day be overwhelmed, and suggested studying stationing new radar there as well as interceptors to knock out any incoming North Korean missiles.

China is a traditional ally of North Korea and fought on its side in the 1950-53 Korean War. But a pre-emptive attack isn't likely, USA officials have said, and the administration is pursuing a strategy of putting pressure on Pyongyang with assistance from China, North Korea's main trading partner and the country's economic lifeline.

While South Korea's Defense Ministry could not immediately confirm the report, the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said: "Our military is closely monitoring the North Korean military's movement in Wonsan areas and we are firmly maintaining readiness". It has threatened to sink a USA aircraft carrier heading to the region, as tensions mount over the North's nuclear weapons program.

South Korea's navy said it also planned to hold another major joint naval practice involving the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier in the sea off the peninsula's east coast near the end of the month.

The nuclear-powered U.S. submarine USS Michigan made a port call at South Korea's Busan yesterday in another show of force.

But asked what would happen if North Korea tests an intercontinental missile or nuclear device, Haley said, "I think then the president steps in and decides what's going to happen".

Trump has said the U.S. was sending an "armada" to the Korean peninsula, including submarines.

"Kim Jong Un's regime has thrown its full weight behind its quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them", John McCain, an Arizona Republican and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Tuesday.

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These included sensors for centrifuges used to enrich uranium, the activity that led to sanctions on Iran. David Albright, of the Institute for Science and International Security, said to Politico .

One such media outlet, the Global Times, ran an editorial last week which must have grabbed the attention of all parties concerned - not least North Korea. "Sarin gas doesn't have to be dropped", he said.

Relations between North Korea and the US and South Korea have deteriorated in recent months, as the rhetoric and military posturing on both sides has increased.

The warning comes as tensions ratcheted up between North Korea, its Asian neighbours and the US.

North Korea launched two missile tests this month while Mr Trump and his senior aides have warned that "all options are on the table" against Pyongyang, including military action.

After weeks of unusually blunt military threats, the joint statement by the agency chiefs said Trump's approach "aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners".

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Trump administration told lawmakers Wednesday it will apply economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, as an extraordinary White House briefing served to tamp down talk of military action against an unpredictable and increasingly unsafe US adversary. Trump has also held out the prospect of a better trade deal with the United States if China solves the problem.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham voiced confidence that Trump won't allow North Korea to reach that point. Graham, a defense hawk who dined with Trump on Monday night, said North Korea should not underestimate the president's resolve.

However, the U.S. warships caused some confusion and attracted mockery when it emerged that they actually sailed in the opposite direction, away from North Korea, after the announcement.

Pyongyang has reacted angrily, threatening to sink the aircraft carrier and to launch a "super-mighty pre-emptive strike" against what it calls U.S. aggression.

15 April: North Korea puts on a huge military parade - complete with missiles - to mark 105th birthday of the nation's founding president, Kim Il-sung.

Prior to the celebrations, satellite images had shown the rogue state could be preparing for another nuclear test.

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