US Nuclear Submarine Arrives in South Korea

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Nuclear-armed North Korea on Tuesday marked a military anniversary with a massive conventional firing drill, Seoul said, as a United States guided-missile submarine docked in South Korea amid tensions over Pyongyang's weapons ambitions.

However in February China announced it was halting all imports of coal from North Korea - a crucial earner for Pyongyang - for the rest of the year.

An urgent appeal to lower political and military tensions on the Korean Peninsula over continued missile tests by the authorities in Pyongyang is being made by a United Nations expert, who says the war of words is already having an impact on citizens.

In addition, one of the largest US guided-missile submarines showed up in the South Korean port of Busan, presaging the imminent arrival in the region of a naval strike group led by an aircraft carrier.

"Our military is closely monitoring the North Korean military's movement", the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

But any decision by Trump to resort to military action would be highly risky, principally because the capital of close ally South Korea lies within range of North Korea artillery and rockets.

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President Donald Trump on Monday urged the UN Security Council to ready new sanctions on North Korea, calling the status quo "unacceptable". North Korea did launch a missile on April 16, but it exploded within seconds.

In the release, the special rapporteur also pointed out that North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006 and continues to carry out long-range missile launches on a regular basis despite the global and unilateral sanctions the country is facing.

The US and South Korean militaries have been reluctant to publicly discuss the progress of the deployment.

The North's KCNA news agency said Kim Jong Un supervised the live-fire drill by its artillery units, navy and airforce and involving submarines firing torpedos.

But no such event - which usually happens in the morning - had taken place by the evening, and instead Seoul's defence ministry said Pyongyang was conducting a "massive fire drill" in the eastern port city of Wonsan.

South Korea's Defence Ministry said it could not immediately confirm the report. But a pre-emptive strike, he said, "would be the last one". The question is whether Beijing has enough leverage to avert a detonation at the North's atomic test site in Punggye-ri, where, analysts say, preparations for a blast appear to have recently resumed.

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McCain said he welcomed the outreach to China.

The Japan government on Tuesday began building sea walls around a planned replacement facility for the U.S. Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture, taking another step forward with the controversial relocation plan.

The three envoys also agreed that China has a key role in pressuring North Korea to abandon its missile and nuclear programs. "In the end, China can't make either side entirely happy". They characterized the omission as diplomatic fallout from the impeachment and ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, which has left the country without an elected leader until voters choose a successor next month.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will chair a special Security Council ministerial on Friday to address denuclearization efforts in the Korean Peninsula.

In a separate meeting slated for Wednesday, high-ranking military officials will brief senators on North Korea, the Pentagon said.

While lawmakers often receive classified briefings, these are usually conducted in secure rooms in the Capitol building and not at the White House.

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