USA steps up pressure on North Korea

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"With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our allies and the USA homeland".

"I don't share your confidence that North Korea is not going to attack either South Korea, or Japan, or the United States. once they have the capability", Harris told a lawmaker at one point.

"We remain open to negotiations towards that goal".

Although Harris expressed concern about North Korea's future capabilities, he downplayed some of its current threats to USA forces in the Pacific.

The strategy hinges greatly on the cooperation of China, North Korea's main trading partner.

America has sent an aircraft carrier group and nuclear submarine to the region, while North Korea has been attempting more missile launches - defying United Nations sanctions.

The mission said "it is an unshakable will of the DPRK to go to the end if the U.S. wants to remain unchanged in its confrontational stance".

China's envoy on North Korea, Wu Dawei, met his Japanese counterpart, Kenji Kanasugi, for talks in Tokyo and they agreed that they would "respond firmly" to any further North Korean provocation, Japan's foreign ministry said.

It may be that President Trump has decided that the cost of North Korea eventually getting nuclear weapons that could strike the United States means that the risk of war has to be taken.

"This is just a risky act little short of lighting the fuse of a total war under the present touch-and-go situation on the Korean peninsula as they openly cried out for ratcheting up pressure on the DPRK", the government said.

With the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un dramatically increasing its missile and nuclear tests in recent years, Vice President Mike Pence said on a visit to the region last week that, under Mr. Trump, the "era of strategic patience" - a reference to Washington's long-held policy of trying to pressure Pyongyang through sanctions and diplomacy - "is over".

Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of the US Pacific Command, testifies before a House Armed Services Committee in Washington on Wednesday.

Instead of an anticipated nuclear or long-range missile test, Pyongyang conducted a large-scale exercise involving hundreds of artillery pieces placed near its east coast on Tuesday, Yonhap news agency reported citing the South's military.

Harris also pushed back on China's opposition to deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, created to shoot down ballistic missiles aimed at South Korea.

China opposes the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, being installed in South Korea.

The Pacific commander said that he was taking Kim Jong Un at his word that the North Korean leader is determined to develop a long-range nuclear missile that could strike the USA and that should "provide us all a sense of urgency" to ensure USA forces in the Pacific are prepared.

This artillery drill appears to have been meant to underscore North Korea's substantial retaliatory capability in the event of a U.S. attack.

The comments came as Japan conducted exercises with a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group headed for Korean waters.