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North Korea carries out 'large-scale' artillery drill, South Korea says

North Korea carries out 'large-scale' artillery drill, South Korea says

Pyongyang's exercise - involving a large number of long-range artillery units - was closely monitored by the South Korean military and Seoul is "firmly maintaining readiness", the South Korea's Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

North Korea's military conducted huge live-fire drills Tuesday and issued new warnings that it would defend itself against the "American imperialists", amid high tensions and a military buildup in the region.

North Korea has responded with a concerted campaign to denounce the USA through organizations and groups at various levels, including a Foreign Ministry spokesperson's statement and Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee spokesperson's statement on April. 22, a Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea white paper and National Reconciliation Council spokesperson's statement on Apr. 23, and a Youth League Central Committee spokesperson's statement and Ministry of People's Armed Forces report on April. 24.

The move also comes as the US and South Korea are keeping a close watch on the possibility of Pyongyang conducting a nuclear test or a ballistic missile launch on Tuesday on the occasion of the North Korean army's anniversary.

North Korea boasted its nuclear explosion in 2016 and tests of missiles including a new intermediate-range ballistic missile dubbed Pukguksong-2, calling it "a nuclear power in the East".

What this all adds up to depends on whether President Trump has rejected the advice given to his predecessors that attacking North Korea could provoke an attack on Seoul, with one expert saying there could be tens of thousands of deaths on the first day.

"China has a very, very important role to play" to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear ambition, Joseph Yun, the US special representative for North Korea policy, told reporters in Tokyo.

North Korea has ambitions to build a missile capable of reaching the United States mainland and tensions have soared in recent months as it carried out a string of missile tests that sparked tit-for-tat sabre-rattling between it and Washington.

If China wanted to use air travel to send a message to Kim's regime, it could order North Korea's Air Koryo to stop flying to several Chinese cities.

The missile-armed USS Michigan is set to join an incoming group of warships led by aircraft carrier Carl Vinson.

The three envoys also agreed that China has a key role in pressuring North Korea to abandon its missile and nuclear programs.

South Korea says a USA nuclear-powered submarine has docked in the southern port of Busan, but it isn't expected to participate in joint naval exercises with South Korea.

South Korea's military says North Korea is conducting large-scale live-fire drills at an area around an eastern coastal town to mark its military's founding anniversary.

Trump has told ambassadors from U.N. Security Council member countries that they must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korea.

The exercise took place as a US guided-missile submarine arrived in South Korea and envoys from the United States, Japan and South Korea met in Tokyo to discuss the growing threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles program.

"This is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not", Trump said at a lunch for ambassadors of countries who sit on the Security Council.

Japanese officials say US representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun met Tuesday with his Japanese counterpart Kenji Kanasugi and Kim Hong-kyun of South Korea to share their latest analyses and discuss cooperation.

North Korean soldiers walk in front of bronze statues of North Korea's late founder Kim Il-sung and late leader Kim Jong Il.

Japan's Foreign Ministry announced that China's envoy for North Korea, Wu Dawei, was arriving in Tokyo on Tuesday for talks with Kanasugi that may take place later this week. He said they also recognized China's recent steps toward that goal.

Adding to the tension, North Korea detained a US citizen on Saturday as he attempted to leave the country.

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

North Korea launched two missile tests this month while US President Donald Trump and his senior aides have warned that "all options are on the table" against Pyongyang, including military action.

The nuclear-powered submarine USS Michigan approaches to join the USA aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in drills near the Korean Peninsula, at Busan port in Busan, South Korea.

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. A pre-emptive strike, he said, "would be the last one".

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