North Korea holds drill to mark military anniversary day

South Korean Defence Ministry predictions that the North would mark its armed forces day with a "strategic provocation" - a nuclear or ballistic missile test - proved premature.

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. Today marks the 85th anniversary of the founding of its military, and North Korea tried - and failed - to launch a missile on April 15 to commemorate the birthday of founder Kim il-Sung.

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

Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun stated in an editorial Tuesday its army has the capacity to "respond to any war the United States wants", and that the "era of the USA imperialist's nuclear terror has ended forever", because North Korea has developed its own nuclear capacity.

At the time, Mr Trump said that he was sending an "armada" to the region and that the USA had submarines which were "very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier".

US President Donald Trump has sent more US military assets to the region in a show of force while leaning on China to exert economic pressure on its wayward ally.

China accounts for about 90% of North Korea's total trade. North Korea announced earlier this month it would continue to dedicate about 16 percent of its national budget to defense.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 27, the Kremlin said. Joseph Yun, the USA special representative for North Korea policy, told reporters after the meeting that "China has a very, very important role to play" to achieve the goal.

"South Korea and the United States have been working to secure an early operational capability of the THAAD system in response to North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile threat", the ministry said in a statement.

Some analysts voiced concerns Trump was backing himself into a corner with his fierce rhetoric on North Korea, leading both countries to a point where "bad things are going to happen".

Trump subsequently spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping about North Korea.

The North Korean state newspaper claimed to have weaponry that "can reach continental US and Asia Pacific region" and the "absolute weapon", or a nuclear hydrogen bomb.

A young girl watches as North Korean men and women take part in a mass dance on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea.

The entire U.S. Senate is invited to the White House on Wednesday for a briefing on threats from Pyongyang.

Diaz notes that it has also been three days since North Korea detained Korean-American professor Tony Kim at Pyongyang airport.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will chair a ministerial meeting of the Security Council on Friday to discuss tougher sanctions, which U.S. officials say could include an oil embargo, banning North Korea's airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese and other foreign banks doing business with Pyongyang.

But the timing, as the U.S. increases its military presence in the area, allows North Korea to remind its opponents that it could cause crippling damage with conventional artillery to highly populated areas in South Korea.

The North has labeled the Vinson's deployment "undisguised military blackmail" and has threatened to "bury it at sea".

Recent U.S. commercial satellite images indicate increased activity around North Korea's nuclear test site, and third-generation dictator Kim Jong Un has said the country's preparation for an ICBM launch is in its "final stage".

Piling onto the global anxiety, North Korea is still detaining a USA citizen who attempted to board a flight to China with his wife on Saturday.

She said the United States was "not trying to pick a fight" with Kim Jong-un: "We are not going to do anything unless he gives us a reason to do something".

  • Leroy Wright