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

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The presence of a warship equipped with Tomahawks, near North Korea, is a serious challenge to Pyongyang, military expert and captain of the 3rd rank reserve Dmitry Litovkin said in an interview with Radio Sputnik. Trump met his national security team on Tuesday and discussed a "range of options" to respond to Pyongyang's repeated recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

"This is a reckless act of war maniacs as it only drives the tense situation on the peninsula into the point of explosion", North Korean state media said in response, adding the: "U.S. must know it's not hard for the DPRK nuclear force to wipe out its war forces and USA mainland is within our striking range".

The number of North Koreans fleeing the isolated country to South Korea dropped nearly 15 per cent in the first nine months of 2017, according to figures released on Sunday.

The Rodong Sinmun commentary was published ahead of joint US-South Korea naval drills, which kick off in the Sea of Japan and Yellow Sea on Monday. The Nimitz-class nuclear-powered carrier supports up to 70 aircraft, from fighters to helicopters, and is one of America's most powerful assets in the region.

"In various locations in the North, TELs (transporter erector launchers) have repeatedly appeared and disappeared".

"The goals, in my opinion, are quite obvious: to apply forceful pressure on North Korea, with whom Washington is now in a tense relationship. Based on this, we have judged that the North could launch a provocation at any time", the source said.

Meanwhile, the speaker of South Korea's parliament, Chung Sye-kyun today called on North Korea to resume talks over its nuclear and missile program.

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. There is a possibility that these could either be the Hwasong-14 inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), whose range encompasses Alaska, or the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile that North Korea had threatened to fire towards the U.S. territory Guam in August.

"If they do that then the rest of the global community will look to work with them", Mr Tehan said.

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