#1 US and China Intensify Pressure on North Korea by ThirstyMan 25.04.2017 15:01


By Brian Padden, Apr 24, 2017

Tensions are again flaring up between the United States and North Korea as concerns grow that the communist state will celebrate another important national holiday with a nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile.

On the eve of the 85th anniversary of the founding of the (North) Korean People’s Army, there are reports of renewed activity at the North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, although analysts caution it is unclear whether a test is imminent.

Strike force

Meanwhile, two Japanese destroyers joined a military exercise with the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group that is en route to the Korean peninsula region. South Korea said on Monday it was in talks with Washington about holding its own joint drills with the U.S. naval strike force.

In early April, U.S. officials sent out confusing messages that the Carl Vinson group was heading toward Korea in advance of the April 15 birthday of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung, which is often celebrated with a provocative weapons test. Instead of a nuclear test, Pyongyang held a military parade and attempted a mid-range missile test that failed. And the aircraft carrier was, until last week, actually in the Indian Ocean, where it was engaged in training exercises with Australia.

North Korea Sunday responded defiantly to the renewed U.S. military show of force, saying it is “combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” in a commentary in the North's ruling Workers' Party Rodong Sinmun newspaper.


Chinese pressure

Reports of a shortage of gasoline in Pyongyang and gas prices rising from 70-80 cents to $1.25 per kilogram at one station in the nation's capital may indicate that Beijing is intensifying efforts to pressure the Kim Jong Un government to give up its nuclear and missile programs. It is unclear if the gas shortage is due to China cutting off oil supplies or because it threatened to do so. (Gasoline is sold by the kilogram rather than liter in North Korea.)

A Saturday editorial in the Chinese Communist Party newspaper the Global Times said if North Korea conducted another nuclear test, Beijing would increase sanctions that would result in, “dramatically decreasing the amount of petroleum exported to North Korea." North Korea relies on China, its largest economic trading partner by far, for close to 90 percent of its petroleum imports.



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