North Korea celebrates as South Korea, US keep watch

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged "restraint" on North Korea in a telephone call with President Trump on Monday.

Instead, the North's state-run KCNA news agency said the Korean People's Army marked the anniversary with a "successful largest-ever artillery drill" under the orders of Supreme Commander Kim in the eastern port city of Wonsan.

As the carrier group drills continued, the USS Michigan arrived in the South Korean port of Busan on Tuesday, the US Navy said. America has sent an aircraft carrier group and nuclear submarine to the region, while North Korea has been attempting more missile launches - defying United Nations sanctions.

The Trump administration has warned that all options, including a military strike, are on the table to block North Korea from developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the USA mainland.

The move came a day after North Korea celebrated its army day with a live-fire drill.

Tension remains very high between the DPRK and the United States over the latter's threat to stage military strikes against Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile programs.

China opposes the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, being installed in South Korea.

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Klug reported from Seoul, South Korea.

"Deploying THAAD is a critical measure to defend the ROK (Republic of Korea) people and Alliance forces against North Korean missile threats, as highlighted by the recent ballistic missile launches by North Korea", a statement from the office of the US Secretary of Defense said Tuesday.

But the USA and South Korean militaries have been reluctant to publicly discuss the progress of the deployment as candidates in a May 9 presidential election debated whether the move should go ahead or be delayed until after the vote.

The Thaad system is created to protect against threats from North Korea. The twisted reality is that China is doing all of this to stop the deployment of a missile defense system, which is only necessary because China has aided and abetted North Korea for decades.

Trump has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile and has said all options are on the table, including a military strike.

"Our military is closely monitoring the North Korean military's movements", said the statement.

The North Koreans are warned that tighter sanctions could "deal a heavy blow" to their economy.

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However, Australian defence industry minister Christopher Pyne insists that North Korea does not have a ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead capable to reaching Australia.

The celebration came on the same day as a USA nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Michigan, arrived in South Korea, and the navies of those two countries joined Japan in in conducting military exercises in the waters west of the Korean peninsula.

North Korea has an airbase in Wonsan and missiles have also been tested there. The U.S. 7th Fleet said two American destroyers were conducting simultaneous maritime exercises with naval ships from South Korea and Japan. Left unsaid by Graham was that a war today could be disastrous for USA allies Japan and South Korea.

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 US Senate on North Korea on Wednesday, Senate aides said.

But the system's installation is also upsetting China, the country Trump hopes to work with to rid the North of nuclear weapons.

US Senator Lindsey Graham said he and fellow Republican John McCain had dinner with Trump on Monday and discussed North Korea. China, which has grown increasingly frustrated with North Korea, its ally, and Russian Federation see the system's powerful radars as a security threat.

The meeting, in addition with an increased USA military presence in the Asia Pacific, is just part of an all-hands-on-deck approach to how the Trump administration will tackle North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

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President Donald Trump called all 100 senators to the White House for a briefing Wednesday on North Korea. According to Yonhap news agency, the parts include two or three launchers, intercept missiles and a radar.

  • Gina Adkins