US, North Korea face off in high-stakes game of chicken

Posted May 04, 2017

North Korea issued a message of warning to the United States on Tuesday, vowing to respond to force with force if attacked.

Tensions with North Korea continued to escalate as the communist state conducted artillery drills today (April 25) while a USA submarine armed with cruise missiles docked at a South Korean base.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said there was a danger that the situation on the Korean peninsula could escalate or slip out of control, his ministry said. Commander Jang Wook, from the South Korean navy public affairs office, said there was no plan for any drill.

Admiral Harry Harris, the top US commander in the Pacific, said on Wednesday the carrier was in the Philippine Sea, within two hours' striking distance of North Korea if needs be.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gave the order to start the demonstration, where the large-caliber self-propelled guns lined up along the coast opened fire, state news agency KCNA reported Wednesday.

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North Korea conducted a big live-fire exercise on Tuesday to mark the foundation of its military as a USA submarine docked in South Korea in a show of force amid growing concern over the North's nuclear and missile programs.

North Korean state media has called the military movements "extremely risky", warning the U.S.to "consider carefully any catastrophic outcome".

Presidents Trump and Xi have been in communication since earlier in the month.

In Washington, top Trump administration officials are due to brief the entire U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

There is also a possibility that North Korea, facing potential changes in regional dynamics as Washington presses Beijing to pressure North Korea more aggressively, opts to mark the anniversary with a missile launch of lesser magnitude.

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"North Korea's a big world problem, and it's a problem we have to finally solve".

The streets of Pyongyang, however, were quiet for Tuesday's anniversary, which was overshadowed by April 15 celebrations for the birthday of the nation's late founder Kim Il Sung, and were marked by a missile test the following day.

On Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will chair a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

The Trump administration is also upping the ante diplomatically.

"It is just the USA which has pushed the situation on the peninsula to the brink of nuclear war by staging the largest-ever aggressive joint military drills against the DPRK for the past two months after bringing all sorts of nuclear strategic assets to south Korea", the North's KCNA state news agency said in a commentary.

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"A North Korean missile with a nuclear payload capable of striking an American city is no longer a distant hypothetical, but an imminent danger, one that poses a real and rising risk of conflict", the senator said.