US commander: Anti-missile system in South Korea operational in 'coming days'

"I believe that we have to look at North Korea as if Kim Jong Un will do what he says", Harris told the panel, while acknowledging that for now, at least, there's a "capability gap" between what the North Korean leader has threatened and what his military could achieve.

A statement from the South Korean military said the live-fire exercises were underway in the Wonsan region in the east of the country, but gave no details on what kinds of weapons and military units took part in the drill.

In a surprise move, the USA military transferred key parts of a controversial anti-missile defense system into operational position overnight on Wednesday, drawing angry reaction from local residents near the site in Seongju, South Korea. He has vowed to prevent North Korea from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile.

North Korea conducted live-fire artillery drills and a USA guided-missile submarine arrived in South Korea on Tuesday, as the Trump administration prepared an extraordinary White House briefing for senators on the escalating nuclear threat.

Klug reported from Seoul, South Korea. At the same time, the USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine armed with 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, arrived in South Korea.

"We've strengthened America's network of alliances and partnerships, working with like-minded partners on shared security threats like North Korea and ISIS".

Mobilization of self-propelled artillery pieces which can reach Seoul and its adjacent areas indicated that Pyongyang seeks to demonstrate its readiness to attack the South if Washington stages a pre-emptive strike on the North, experts say.

President Donald Trump has sent more US military assets to the region in a show of force while leaning on China to exert economic pressure on its wayward ally.

The installation of the THAAD is opposed by North Korean ally China, which sees the powerful radar as a security threat.

Residents in the Seongju area, where the battery will be deployed, have also been protesting, anxious that the system's presence will make them a target for North Korea's missiles. Pyongyang residents hold mass dances across the city to mark the 85th anniversary of the count.

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"The deployment of THAAD in South Korea would destroy the strategic balance and incite a further rise in the tensions", he said.

Song tendered his resignation as president of the University of North Korea Studies on Monday amid the controversy, a school official said.

The drill is viewed as a show of force, as the U.S. Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is heading toward the Korean Peninsula amid tensions over signs of the North's provocations.

North Korean Defense Minister Pak Yong Sik said Monday that "the situation prevailing on the Korean Peninsula is so tense that a nuclear war may break out due to the frantic war drills of the USA imperialists and their vassal forces for aggression", according to The Associated Press.

The JoongAng Ilbo daily said in an editorial that South Korea shouldn't be excluded from critical discussions surrounding North Korea, because "the destiny of our nation could be at stake".

Trump, in his phone call with Xi, criticised North Korea's "continued belligerence" and emphasised that its actions "are destabilising the Korean peninsula", the White House said.

"We've all come to hear their words repeatedly; their word has not proven honest", Mattis told a news conference in Tel Aviv, before the latest threat to the aircraft carrier.

A young girl watches as North Korean men and women take part in a mass dance on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Two Japanese destroyers have joined the US carrier group in a show of solidarity.

The comments are a new sign of US concerns about the threat Pyongyang poses, and came ahead of an unusual White House briefing Wednesday afternoon about North Korea scheduled by the Trump administration for USA senators.

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