US submarine makes South Korea port call, North remains defiant

The port call by the USS Michigan, which is created to carry ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, came as a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group steamed toward Korean waters in an effort to deter North Korea from a sixth nuclear test or more missile launches in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

Seoul says North Korea conducted huge live-fire drills Tuesday.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited a government source as saying the exercise was the North's "largest ever".

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

A statement from US Naval Forces Korea called the sub's visit "routine" and said it was a chance to highlight the alliance between the US and South Korean navies.

North Korea's official media said early Wednesday that leader Kim Jong Un personally observed the exercises.

US President Donald Trump has called on China to do more to help stifle North Korea's nuclear ambitions following a number of recent ballistic missile tests. But senior officials have repeatedly said that "all options" remain on the table.

The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and ships in the strike group accompanying it are continuing to move toward the South Korea region, after completing a short naval exercise with Japanese ships in the Philippine Sea.

In a defiant bit of timing, South Korea announced Wednesday that key parts of a contentious United States missile defense system had been installed a day after rival North Korea showed off its military power. As The Two-Way reported Monday, "the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier was rerouted toward North Korea earlier this month, after initial confusion over its strike group's deployment - including remarks by President Trump that he was sending "an armada" to the Korean Peninsula".

The US destroyer Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and South Korean destroyer Wang Geon are operating in waters west of the Korean peninsula, while the US destroyer Fitzgerald and Japanese destroyer Chokai are operating in the Sea of Japan, the release explained.

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

China is North Korea's only ally and main trading partner - and the United States has been urging Beijing to help put pressure on Pyongyang.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday called for "restraint" regarding North Korea in a telephone conversation with Trump. It did not elaborate. The issue was discussed during a meeting between Mr Trump, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and around a dozen UN ambassadors earlier this week in the White House.

In a highly unusual move, the Trump administration confirmed that the entire U.S. senate will be briefed on North Korea at a meeting in the White House on Wednesday.

"The situation prevailing on the Korean Peninsula is so tense that a nuclear war may break out due to the frantic war drills of the USA imperialists and their vassal forces for aggression", Gen. Pak Yong Sik told a "national meeting" of thousands of senior military and civilian officials.

Tillerson will be "very vocal" about nations enforcing sanctions on North Korea, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

"The status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable", Trump told a meeting with the 15 UN Security Council ambassadors, including China and Russian Federation, at the White House.

North Korea says its nuclear programme is defensive but it is trying to develop weapons small enough to put on ballistic missiles.

"They are at once perilously overestimating their own strength and underestimating the hazards they are brewing for themselves", it said.

  • Leroy Wright