Sunday, 19 November, 2017

Tension runs high ahead of allies' joint military drill

North Korea warned Australia of the risks of siding with US President Donald Trump’s administration North Korea warned Australia of the risks of siding with US President Donald Trump’s administration
Wilma Wheeler | 16 October, 2017, 00:21

US and South Korean military officials believe North Korea is preparing to launch a ballistic missile ahead of an upcoming joint US-South Korean naval drill, according to a newspaper The Donga Ilbo, as reported by France24.com on Saturday. "Based on this, we have judged that the North could launch a provocation at any time", the source said.

A launch of a North Korean ballistic missile in May was timed for when Xi was to open a meeting in Beijing with leaders from almost 30 countries to promote his initiative of expanding links along and beyond ancient Silk Road trade routes.

US F-35A and F-22 stealth fighter jets, B-1B bombers and RQ-4 surveillance drones will participate in the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition being held from tomorrow through Friday, but will not be armed, said a Yonhap report.

The United Nations has imposed sanctions on the North for its weapons tests. This could be the Hwasong-14 inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), whose range could extend to Alaska, or Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missiles which Pyongyang threatened to fire towards the US Pacific territory of Guam in August, the report said. Earlier this week the U.S. flew two supersonic heavy bombers over the Korean peninsula, staging the first night- time joint aviation exercises with Japan and South Korea.

Trump has said all options-including military-are on the table to stop Kim, and the White House ruled out talks with Pyongyang. The comments came shortly after United States bombers and fighter jets flew near its eastern coastline.

North Korea also turned its focus on Australia at the weekend, warning the United States ally of the risks of siding with Trump.

North Korea has labelled US President Donald Trump a "war merchant and strangler of peace".

"Lately, Australia is showing unsafe moves of zealously joining the frenzied political and military provocations of the U.S.", the news agency added.

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who visited South Korea last week, said the Chinese Communist Party's national party congress, which opens on Wednesday, could be a trigger for new provocative action by North Korea.

Bishop said a pair of Australian warships will soon be heading to South Korea as part of their mutual defense agreement.

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