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Top DPRK leader supervises largest-ever combined firing drill

27 April, 2017, 02:00 | Author: Jan Cross

Kim Jong Un supervised what North Korea says was its largest-ever live-fire military drill on Tuesday, in military exercises staged to mark the 85th foundation anniversary of the Korean People's Army (KPA), the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Wednesday.

Television footage showed military trailers carrying large units, including what appeared to be launch canisters being driven into the planned THAAD battery site, about 250km south of Seoul.

In a defiant bit of timing, South Korea announced Wednesday that key parts of a contentious USA missile defense system had been installed a day after rival North Korea showed off its military power.

A US submarine created to carry 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles entered a South Korean port on Tuesday as the USS Carl Vinson carrier group steamed towards the Korean waters in an effort to deter the North from a sixth nuclear test and more missile launches.

The destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyers is conducting bilateral maritime exercises with a South Korean destroyer in waters west of the Korean Peninsula Tuesday and Wednesday, while the destroyer USS Fitzgerald is partnering with a Japanese destroyer in waters west of Japan, according to the USA 7th Fleet.

The United States wants to bring North Korea back to the "path of dialogue" over its nuclear weapons programme and will use diplomatic measures and additional sanctions to increase pressure on it. And the USS Carl Vinson aircraft supercarrier is also headed toward the peninsula for a joint exercise with South Korea.

With all of this, it's hard to know if war is actually imminent or if these are the growing pains of US President Donald Trump's new administration figuring out how to deal with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un. However, North Korea has, in fact, been offered multiple security assurances across several United States administrations: take the 2005 joint statement reached during six-party talks, or the "Leap Day Deal" signed during president Barack Obama's term.

In this Monday, April 24, 2017 photo released by the U.S. Navy, the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan is greeted as it arrives in Busan, South Korea, for a sc.

All 100 USA senators will gather Wednesday for a White House briefing on the volatility in North Korea.

The North is also believed to be preparing for a sixth nuclear weapons test.

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The Chinese president said he hopes all sides avoid doing anything to worsen the tense situation on the Korean peninsula, according to the Xinhua news agency.

South Korea has said China has discriminated against some South Korean companies in retaliation against the deployment.

Along with sending U.S. military assets to the region in a show of force, President Donald Trump has called on China to exert economic pressure on its ally.

Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China urged the US and South Korea to withdraw the system.

Unspecified parts of the THAAD defense system also were installed.

"As these discussions continue, the United States should be clear that while we earnestly seek China's cooperation on North Korea, we do not seek such cooperation at the expense of our vital interests, and we must not and will not bargain over our alliances with Japan and South Korea". Pyongyang launched a missile one day after the 105th birthday of late founder Kim Il Sung on April 15.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said North Korea had become a "front and center front-burner issue" and Tillerson would be "very vocal" on Friday about his concerns that countries were not doing enough to implement sanctions.

Top nuclear envoys from Japan, South Korea and the United States met on Tuesday in Tokyo and vowed "stern action" against any fresh North Korean provocations.

Though he has been portrayed as young and hotheaded, North Korea's desire for nuclear weapons has a clear objective: to ensure its survival.

Seoul and Washington say the sole goal of THAAD is to defend against North Korean missiles, but China is concerned the system's powerful radar can penetrate its territory and undermine its security. The North called the airstrikes "absolutely unpardonable" and said it proves that its nuclear weapons are justified to protect the country against Washington's "evermore reckless moves for a war".

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