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

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Though the North historically tended not to provoke directly during the military drills, its official KCNA news agency on Saturday slammed the joint exercise as a "reckless act of war maniacs".

The USS Ronald Reagan will conduct the ten-day joint drills in waters east and west of South Korea. An Ohio-class guided-missile submarine, the USS Michigan, has already arrived at the southern port of Busan, carrying some 150 Tomahawk missiles.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept 3, and has launched more than a dozen missiles this year as it seeks the capability to hit the continental United States with an atomic weapon. Mr Trump has said all options, including military ones, are on the table to stop Pyong yang.

A war of words has escalated between the two leaders in recent weeks, with Trump labelling Kim "Rocket Man" and telling the United Nations that the U.S. would "totally destroy" North Korea if it attacks.

That mission came 17 days after four US F-35B stealth fighter jets and two B-1Bs flew over the peninsula. There are some concerns that North Korea may choose to launch its Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile into the Pacific Ocean to test its capabilities on a standard or minimum energy trajectory.

By his inflammatory rhetoric regarding North Korea, Trump intends "to create the hair-trigger situation on the peninsula and shovel up money by selling the US-made arms and equipment to vassal forces", the commentary read, referring to Japan and South Korea, which the North Korean outlet called "puppets" of Washington.

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

The rogue state has threatened Australia in the past, including of nuclear retaliation in April.

The Pyongyang regime has criticised Australia's "dangerous moves" in its support for the USA in its political and military provocations and should it continue it will not be able to "avoid disaster".

Initially it was expected that North Korea would carry out a provocative test last Tuesday, to mark the anniversary of its ruling party's foundation. North Korea has sought in the past to embarrass China at times when the country is a focus of global attention, she said.

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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