North Korea celebrates as South Korea, US keep watch

The newspaper reported that the submarine is likely to act as a deterrent to the 1.3 million-strong Korean People's Army, the founding of which North Korea celebrates on April 25 each year.

North Korea's capital was quiet amid expectations of some sort of a big event to mark the anniversary of the founding of the country's military.

It is thought to be the largest firing drill and is seen as an attempt to step up Pyongyang's belligerent rhetoric against the United States with tensions between the rivals running high on the Korean peninsula.

Kanasugi said after talks with his USA and South Korean counterparts that they all agreed China should take a concrete role to resolve the crisis and it could use an oil embargo as a tool to press the North.

North Korea on Tuesday reportedly conducted a huge live-fire drill that involved up to 400 artillery pieces, which may have been supervised by the country's leader, Kim Jong Un.

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

A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said those meetings called by USA officials clearly reflected the US pressure that could "ignite a full-out war" on the Korean peninsula. North Korea, on the other hand, hopes China will pile more pressure on the US and South Korea to stop their threats of war.

The USS Michigan, which made a port call in South Korea today, is the second Ohio-class nuclear-powered guided missile submarine in the United States Navy.

"If the United States and warmongers run amok with a reckless pre-emptive strike, we will stage the most brutal punishment of a pre-emptive attack in the sky and land as well as at sea and from underwater without any warning or prior notice", said Rodong Sinmun, a North Korean newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea.

The submarine's arrival comes as the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier heads toward the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.

Japan's Foreign Ministry also announced that China's envoy for North Korea, Wu Dawei, will visit Tokyo on Tuesday for talks with Kanasugi, which may take place later this week.

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

There was speculation that the North might carry out another nuclear or missile test.

The North says it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against invasion and a spokesman for its foreign ministry on Tuesday claimed the meetings - coupled with Trump's fresh policy of "maximum pressure and engagement" on Pyongyang - showed the threat it faced from the US. "People put blindfolds on for decades and now it's time to solve the problem".

China has traditionally been North Korea's ally and the nation with the most influence over Pyongyang, but its stance towards its northern neighbour appears to be hardening. "Very powerful", Trump said in a Fox News interview.

Asked about the threshold for USA action, Haley told American broadcaster NBC that "if you see him attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile, then obviously we're going to do that". Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the three envoys were to deepen cooperation and stay on the same page amid growing tension.

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.

Kim reported from Seoul, South Korea.

  • Leroy Wright