Escalating tensions between the US and North Korea: What's going on?

Escalating tensions between the US and North Korea: What's going on?

Escalating tensions between the US and North Korea: What's going on?

North Korea, still technically at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce but not a treaty, has on occasion conducted a missile or nuclear tests to coincide with big political events and often threatens the United States, South Korea and Japan.

Goose-stepping soldiers and marching bands filled the square, next to the Taedonggang River that flows through Pyongyang, in the hazy spring sunshine, followed by tanks, multiple launch rocket systems and other weapons.

A massive military parade in Pyongyang celebrated the Day of the Sun, April 15, which is the birthday of North Korea's late founder Kim Il Sung.

The festivities, celebrating the 105th birthday of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un's grandfather, took place amid concerns that North Korea is possibly preparing for its sixth nuclear test or a significant rocket launch, such as its first flight test of an ICBM. One troupe was made up of sword-wielding women.

Single-engine propeller-powered planes flew in a 105 formation overhead.

But it was also meant to send an unmistakable message to Washington about the isolated country's military might.

"We're prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and we are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks", Choe Ryong-Hae said in a speech at a ceremony before a large military parade started.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty and Pyongyang says it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against a possible USA invasion.

(KRT via AP). In this image made from video broadcast by North Korean broadcaster KRT, soldiers take part in a parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, Saturday, April 15, 2017.

Other military hardware at the parade included tanks, multiple rocket launchers and artillery, as well as a solid-fuel missile created to be fired from submarines.

Speculation that it could conduct a sixth blast in the coming days to coincide with the anniversary has reached fever pitch, with specialist USA website 38North describing its Punggye-ri test site as "primed and ready" and White House officials saying military options were "already being assessed".

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"We are sending an armada, very powerful". "He's making a big mistake".

He reiterated his call for more pressure from China, North Korea's main ally in the region, to clamp down on trade and back stronger enforcement of United Nations sanctions as a means to force denuclearization. The official said it wasn't immediately clear what Kim Won Hong's current role was with North Korea's government.

Pyongyang has expressed anger over the annual spring military exercises the USA holds with South Korea, which it considers an invasion rehearsal.

It has not previously held a nuclear test in the month of April. This would allow North Korea to prevent its limited number of ICBM-capable TELs from being damaged during launch and also make the missiles harder to detect after they're fired, he said.

State television showed what appeared to be several KN-08 missiles rolled out on trucks at the parade. Analysts say the missiles could one day be capable of hitting targets as far as the continental United States, although North Korea has yet to flight test them.

"We'll probably see more engine tests or component tests building up eventually to an actual test of the full unit".

Another missile launch or nuclear test "can't be ruled out", he said, but the recent United States cruise missile strike on Syria and Washington's tough stance "may give Pyongyang some pause".

"A parade is a highly visible but non-kinetic way of showing off capabilities", he told AFP.

For outside military analysts, though, the highlight is the weaponry that the North puts on display.

"Long live!" they chanted, some in tears.

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