North Korea Readies Missile Launch Ahead Of US-South Korea Drill

Monday, 16 Oct, 2017

Moscow and Beijing came up with a "double freeze" initiative that envisions a halt to North Korean nuclear tests in return for the suspension of the US-South Korea drills, but the idea was rejected by Washington.

Multiple South Korean media reports citing unidentified military officials on Saturday and Sunday said North Korean missile vehicles "kept appearing and disappearing" from the map and "transporter erector launchers" had been spotted carrying ballistic missiles from near Pyongyang and North Pyongan province. But the growing range and accuracy seen in the North's missile tests has prompted the 29-nation alliance to review its missile defence system, which has been partially operational from a base in Romania since a year ago.

A war of words has escalated between the two leaders in recent weeks, with Trump labelling Kim "Rocket Man" and telling the United Nations that the U.S. would "totally destroy" North Korea if it attacks.

The scheduled military exercise comes as the United States has sent a batch of its strategic assets, including nuclear submarine USS Michigan, which arrived at the southern port of Busan on Friday.

US F-35A and F-22 stealth fighter jets, B-1B bombers and RQ-4 surveillance drones will participate in the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition being held from tomorrow through Friday, but will not be armed, said a Yonhap report.

Tensions remain high on the Korean Peninsula, as the North conducted its sixth nuclear test on September 3, followed by several ballistic missile launches. But military intervention against North Korea would have "devastating consequences", NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned yesterday, after Trump said diplomatic efforts had failed.

Hamas and Fatah compromise
MK Tzipi Livni called the reconciliation talks in Cairo "an opportunity for change", but also called on Hamas to disarm. Thursday's signing of the agreement in Cairo was reached after two days of Egyptian-brokered negotiations.

Foreign minister Ri Yong Ho suggested last month that could include testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean. Earlier this week the United States flew two supersonic heavy bombers over the Korean peninsula, staging the first night- time joint aviation exercises with Japan and South Korea. The comments came shortly after USA bombers and fighter jets flew near its eastern coastline.

North Korea has called on Chinese newspapers to stop making "reckless remarks" and show a better understanding of why Pyongyang needs to advance its arms technologies and capabilities.

North Korea has threatened Australia for "showing risky moves of zealously joining the frenzied political and military provocations" of the United States against its regime.

The rogue state has threatened Australia in the past, including of nuclear retaliation in April.

North Korea might test a ballistic missile on or around October 10, the anniversary of the founding of the North Korean communist party, but the day passed without any major provocation, American, South Korean, and Japanese officials suspected. "Right now we think the threat is manageable but over time, if it grows beyond where it is today, well, let's hope that diplomacy works", Kelly added.