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North Korea marks anniversary with massive artillery drill

The exercise took place in an area around the North's eastern coastal town of Wonsan, according to the South Korean military, as a United States guided-missile submarine arrived in South Korea amid rising tensions over Kim Jong Un's regime. Commander Jang Wook from the South Korean navy public affairs office said there is no plan for any drill.

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.

A U.S. guided-missile submarine arrived in South Korea on Tuesday and envoys from the U.S., Japan and South Korea met in Tokyo, as North Korea marked the anniversary of the founding of its military.

Earlier: A USA guided-missile submarine arrived in South Korea today as North Korea prepared to mark the anniversary of the founding of its military amid fears of a new nuclear test.

"We believe China has a very, very important role to play", said the USA envoy for North Korea policy, Joseph Yun.

Kim says the envoys strongly denounce North Korea's continuing provocations, including threats of a nuclear war.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis are also to brief the Senate on Wednesday on Washington's potential moves vis-à-vis Pyongyang.

The United States, Japan and South Korea agreed Tuesday to put maximum pressure on North Korea, the South's envoy for North Korea said after meeting his American and Japanese counterparts in Tokyo.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency earlier said that the exercise involved 300 to 400 artillery pieces and that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un likely observed what was one of the country's largest artillery drills.

Kim reported from Seoul, South Korea.

Confusion had clouded the carrier's whereabouts earlier this month after U.S. officials indicated it was sailing towards North Korea when in fact it was heading south.

He told the gathering: "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". He said they also recognized China's recent steps toward that goal. "The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs".

North Korea is reportedly engaged in a large-scale live-fire artillery exercise, in what is apparently meant to signal to the hostile United States that Pyongyang is combat-ready.

"We call on (North Korea) to refrain from provocative, destabilizing actions and rhetoric, and to make the strategic choice to fulfill its worldwide obligations and commitments and return to serious talks".

He has reportedly rejected military options or trying to overthrow North Korea's government.

The JoongAng Ilbo daily said in an editorial that South Korea shouldn't be excluded from critical discussions surrounding North Korea, because "the destiny of our nation could be at stake".

"Both exercises demonstrate a shared commitment to security and stability in Northeast Asia", the U.S. Seventh Fleet said in a statement, "as well as the U.S. Navy's inherent flexibility to combine with allied naval forces in response to a broad range of situations". It launched a missile one day after the 105th birthday of late founder Kim Il Sung on April 15.

The North's Rodong Sinmun - the official mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea - warned on Tuesday of dire consequences in the event of a US-led pre-emptive strike.

"The last thing China wants is to see war break out in the region. given the geopolitical circumstances, (North Korea) must learn to be as flexible as they are determined", the state-run Global Times newspaper said Tuesday.

However the morning came and went without any nuclear tests or ballistic missile launches, and all that was publicly scheduled for the day were gatherings for mass dancing, a common celebration on major North Korean holidays.

Relations between North Korea and the US and South Korea have deteriorated in recent months, as the rhetoric and military posturing on both sides has increased.


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