U.S. submarine arrives in Seoul amid tensions

China accounts for about 90% of North Korea's total trade.

The North's KCNA news agency said Kim Jong Un supervised the live-fire drill by its artillery units, navy and airforce and involving submarines firing torpedos.

The drills took place near the eastern coastal town of Wonsan with "more than 300 large-calibre self-propelled guns lined up along the coastline opening fire all at once", which Seoul said was one of North Korea's largest artillery deployments to date.

A North Korean official speaking on CNN said the country would not be influenced by outside events.

It described North Korea as "an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority".

South Korea said in a statement Wednesday that unspecified parts of THAAD were installed.

The United States began moving the first elements of the advanced missile defence system into South Korea in early March after the North test-launched four ballistic missiles.

The Wayne E. Meyer - which left San Diego in January as part of the Carl Vinson carrier group - is operating with the South Korean destroyer Wang Geon in waters west of the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. Navy said in a statement released today.

North Korea's foreign ministry said the meetings called by USA officials reflected US pressure that could "ignite a full-out war" and showed that Pyongyang's decision to become a nuclear power was correct.

The drills were held as the country commemorated the 85th anniversary of the founding of North Korean army, a significant date in the country's calendar.

A CNN team in North Korea said citizens in the streets of Pyongyang were celebrating Armed Forces Day, with no visible signs of tension.

On the same day as the THAAD deployment, South Korean and USA troops held a live fire drill featuring a wide array of army aviation, artillery and armoured vehicles at an artillery range in Pocheon, about 50 km (about 31 miles) northeast of Seoul. North Korea did launch a missile on April 16, but it exploded within seconds.

Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea speaks during a televised debate in Goyang, South Korea, April 25, 2017.

North Korea's nuclear and missile development "is a real threat to the world", he said.

Experts thought North Korea might conduct a nuclear test or a ballistic missile launch to mark the anniversary, but as of Tuesday evening neither had occurred.

Wednesday's briefings will focus on three key issues related to North Korea's nuclear program: intelligence about the North's capabilities; USA response options, including military ones; and how to get China and other countries to enforce existing economic sanctions on Pyongyang, along with ideas for new penalties.

"We are engaging responsible members of the global community to increase pressure on the DPRK in order to convince the regime to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue", the statement read, using North Korea's official name. "People put blindfolds on for decades and now it's time to solve the problem".

President Donald Trump's secretary of state, defense secretary, top general and national intelligence director were to outline for them the North's escalating nuclear capabilities and US response options, officials said.

Although such an explosion hasn't yet occurred, Trump has sent high-powered US military vessels and an aircraft carrier to the region in a show of force, while the North conducted large-scale, live-fire artillery drills, witnessed by national leader Kim Jong Un, earlier this week.

  • Leroy Wright