South Korean President Moon Jae-In has for the first time defined what he would consider a "red line" in dealing with provocations from North Korea, in contrast with U.S. President Donald Trump's reticence on the matter.
The top US military officer is warning during a trip to Seoul that the United States is ready to use the "full range" of its military capabilities to defend itself and its allies from North Korea.
But even as Kim Jong Un's regime makes technical progress and delivers shrill threats, the North Korean problem must be solved through peaceful means. Of course, the same obviously applies to propaganda and rhetoric coming out of North Korea.
But the US and South Korea are set to begin their annual 10-day Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint exercises on Monday, involving tens of thousands of troops, which the North has long slammed as a rehearsal for invasion.
Therefore, the leader of South Korea hopes to calm the crisis by restraining more militant voices within the Trump administration - while, somehow, reaching out to North Korea despite the signs looking negative. In March, the beginning of Foal Eagle prompted North Korea to test-fire four ballistic missiles, which in turn prompted the Pentagon to announce that it was assembling a missile defense system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) on the Korean Peninsula with approval of the government in Seoul. "These exercises are necessary to maintain readiness in the face of provocative acts threatening the (Republic of Korea) and the U.S. Our job is provide our leadership with viable military options if called upon, and exercises like this hone our ability to do that".
But Mr Moon said he believes dialogue with North Korea can happen when North Korea halts missile and nuclear tests.
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US and South Korean officials have for months been expecting a sixth nuclear test. The remarks were provided by the presidential Blue House.
"A resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue by military force is completely unacceptable and the peninsula's nuclear issue must be peacefully resolved by political and diplomatic methods", Mr Lavrov said.
"I think we're not closer to war than a week ago, but we are closer to war than we were a decade ago", McMaster told ABC News.
The main South Korean opposition Liberty Korea Party, the reincarnation of the conservative party that had been led by disgraced former president Park Geun-hye, this week added bringing American nuclear weapons back to its party platform. Hence, Moon can't afford to remain on the sidelines and appear weak giving the current war of words between America and North Korea.
Yesterday James Mattis, the USA defence secretary, said that it would be "game on" if North Korea fired a missile that hit American territory. "For peace on the Korean Peninsula, I will do everything that I can do".
Most of the interactions between US and Chinese military forces are professional and courteous, said a senior Pacific Command official speaking on background.
Ahead of Kim's inspection of the army, North Korea said it will develop a plan by mid-August for a missile test targeting Guam.
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