North Korea's capital quiet for army anniversary

Instead of an anticipated nuclear or long-range missile test, Pyongyang conducted a large-scale exercise involving hundreds of artillery pieces placed near its east coast on Tuesday, Yonhap news agency reported citing the South's military.

Tension on the Korean Peninsula was high on the anniversary, with USA and South Korean missile destroyers also due to hold a live-fire exercise in the western sea on the North Korean border.

The flurry of activity comes as North Korea marks the 85th anniversary of the founding of its army, a significant date in the country's calendar which raises the possibility of another North Korean nuclear or missile test.

Addressing 15 Security Council ambassadors to the United Nations, including those of Russian Federation and China, at a meeting in the White House on Monday (24 April), Trump said immediate action must be taken to stop Pyongyang's provocations.

US President Donald Trump has called for renewed sanctions on North Korea amid escalating tensions between the two countries.

A meeting of the nuclear envoys of the US, South Korea and Japan in Tokyo resolved the three countries would "take strong punitive action that the North could not bear" if North Korea pushed ahead with another provocative action.

Trump sent the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group for exercises off the Korean peninsula as a warning to Pyongyang, but USA officials say sanctions, not military strikes, are the preferred option. He has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile and has said all options are on the table, including a military strike.

Beijing has thus advised the North Korean regime to be flexible, and has praised the nation's independent development after the Korean war, in a veiled criticism of South Korea's close co-operation with the US.

With North Korea owing at least two-thirds of its trade exclusively to China, the country could impose crippling sanctions on North Korea.

After Kim Jong Un's failed nuclear test and, Trump sent an "armada" to northern Australia to position themselves strongly against North Korea and act as a warning.

Trump was on the phone yesterday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Korea marks military anniversary with firing drill
The North's media also said its military was prepared "to bring to closure the history of U.S. scheming and nuclear blackmail". Trump and USA officials have repeatedly said all options remain "on the table" to deal with further North Korean provocations.

South Korean and United States officials have feared for some time that a sixth North Korean nuclear test could be imminent.

Piling onto the global anxiety, North Korea is still detaining a US citizen who attempted to board a flight to China with his wife on Saturday.

Mr Trump has indicated he is willing to ramp up USA military pressure on North Korea while simultaneously encouraging China to use its influence on its ally, and reject bilateral diplomacy with Pyongyang.

A young girl watches as North Korean men and women take part in a mass dance on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea.

The U.S. and North Korea both showed off their military prowess on Tuesday as nations in the region stepped up diplomatic talks to defuse a brewing crisis over Kim Jong Un's nuclear program.

Zhang Tuosheng, director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at the China Foundation for worldwide and Strategic Studies, said North Korea is bowing to pressure from China, the United States, China, South Korea and Japan.

USS Michigan is one of four Ohio-class submarines that the Navy has converted from carrying nuclear ballistic missiles to conventional guided missiles.Its homeport is Bremerton, Wash., but it is forward deployed from Guam.

South Korea's Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was monitoring the situation and "firmly maintaining readiness".

Joseph Yun, the USA special representative for North Korea policy, told reporters in Tokyo that "China has a very, very important role to play" to convince its neighbor to abandon its nuclear program.

But the timing, as the United States increases its military presence in the area, allows North Korea to remind its opponents that it could cause crippling damage with conventional artillery to highly populated areas in South Korea.

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