Reports of North Korea artillery drill as US submarine docks in South Korea

The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan arrives for a regularly scheduled port visit while conducting routine patrols throughout the Western Pacific in Busan, South Korea, April 24, 2017. Jermaine Ralliford/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

 

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

SEOUL:North Korea conducted a big live-fire exercise on Tuesday to mark the foundation of its military as a U.S. submarine docked in South Korea in a show of force amid growing concern over the North’s nuclear and missile programmes.

The port call by the USS Michigan came as a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group steamed towards Korean waters and as top envoys for North Korea policy from South Korea, Japan and the United States met in Tokyo.

Fears have risen in recent weeks that North Korea would conduct another nuclear test or long-range missile launch in defiance of U.N. sanctions, perhaps on the Tuesday anniversary of the founding of its military.

But instead of a nuclear test or big missile launch, North Korea deployed a large number of long-range artillery units in the region of Wonsan on its east coast for a live-fire drill, South Korea’s military said. North Korea has an air base in Wonsan and missiles have also been tested there.

“North Korea is conducting a large-scale firing drill in Wonsan areas this afternoon,” the South’s Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

The South’s Yonhap News Agency said earlier the exercise was possibly supervised by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump sent the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group for exercises off the Korean peninsula as a warning to North Korea and a show of solidarity with U.S. allies.

South Korea’s navy said it was conducting a live-fire exercise with U.S. destroyers in waters west of the Korean peninsula and would soon join the carrier strike group approaching the region.

China, North Korea’s sole major ally which nevertheless objects to its weapons development, has repeatedly called for calm, and its envoy for Korean affairs, Wu Dawei, was in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Japan’s envoy on North Korea, Kenji Kanasugi, said after talks with his U.S. and South Korean counterparts that they 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.

“We believe China has a very, very important role to play,” said the U.S. envoy for North Korea policy, Joseph Yun.

RARE SENATE BRIEFING

Matching the flurry of diplomatic and military activity in Asia, the State Department in Washington said on Monday U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would chair a special ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security Council on North Korea on Friday.

Tillerson, along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Joint Chiefs chairman General Joseph Dunford, would also hold a rare briefing for the entire U.S. Senate on North Korea on Wednesday, Senate aides said.

Full article: Reports of North Korea artillery drill as US submarine docks in South Korea (Channel NewsAsia)

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